BALTIMORE (WJZ) — In the 20 years since its founding, the Cal Ripken Sr. Foundation has been focused on building a brighter future for young people.

On Wednesday, the foundation gathered in South Baltimore’s Cherry Hill neighborhood to unveil its 100th youth development park nationwide and its 16th in Maryland.

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The state-of-the-art field, built in collaboration with the South Baltimore Gateway Partnership and Baltimore City Recreation Parks, will be known as BGE Field presented by Kelly Benefits at Reedbird Park.

Steve Salem, president and chief executive officer for the foundation, spoke about the importance of the field to the community during a ribbon-cutting ceremony.

“These parks are built to give kids a nice place to go after school,” Salem said. “A safe place to play, be part of a team or just run around with their friends. It’s an alternative to many of the negative influences that they face every day.”

The multi-use field, which features lights and bleachers, will support soccer, football, lacrosse and baseball. Amenities include indoor and outdoor spaces, pools and a wellness and fitness center, complete with multi-purpose rooms.

It’s fitting that the foundation built its 100th park in Baltimore, since this is where the organization installed its first park years ago.

“I am so glad it’s here in Baltimore,” Baltimore Orioles legend Cal Ripken, Jr., said. “We build all over the country — the first is at Oriole Stadium and the 100th one is right here in Baltimore, too.”

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Since the foundation’s work began, it has touched the lives of more than 10 million youth across the country through sports facilities, STEM centers and other spaces for young people.

Like its predecessors, this new space is being gifted to the youth of South Baltimore, including children like Quincy Robinson and Ethan McMillan.

“This is something I’ve been looking forward to since I been told,” Robinson said.

Added McMillan: “I think we can play football on the field.”

Mayor Brandon Scott, who was also on hand for the ceremony, called the ribbon-cutting the occasion the highlight of his day.

“Thanks to each and every one of you, imagine what they’ll be able to accomplish now that they have a world-class facility,” Scott said.

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It’s anticipated the facilities will open by April 2022.

CBS Baltimore Staff