Groundbreaking held for new facility at historic Berston Field House
FLINT, Mich. (WNEM) – Community leaders and officials gathered at the historic Berston Field House to break ground on phase one of an all-new facility.
“Today, Oct. 25 marks the formal breaking of ground for the new addition, this exciting new institution,” said Valorie Horton, interim executive director of Berston Field House.
That exciting new addition is an expansion of the Berston Field House. The historic center is embarking on a transformational project to revitalize the current facility and create another right next to it.
“I just remember like Berston being the place that was safe for me to come where I felt like my complete self,” said Claressa Shields, middleweight boxing champ.
The century-old facility has been a community hub for Flint. Serving as an educational and recreational center, Berston has birthed some of the world’s biggest athletes, including undisputed world middleweight champ Claressa Shields.
“I’ll be a part of it, and I’ll be down here, and I’m happy that BB chose my face to be on the front of Berston Field House because now, it’s Berston but they’ll be like, ‘Oh that Claressa Shields’ gym,’ and it’s not my gym, but that’s what they’ll call it,” Shields said.
Ridgway White, the president and CEO of the Charles Stewart Mott Foundation, said Wednesday’s groundbreaking was a mix of excitement and sadness.
“BB’s not here today,” White said.
Bryant Nolden, affectionately known as BB, was a Genesee County Commissioner and all-around community staple. He is credited for reopening the Berston Field House and was the mastermind behind this project.
Nolden didn’t get to see his vision become a reality after passing suddenly last December, but community leaders said they’ll take it from here.
“It was because of his vision; it was because of his drive and his desire to make sure that we reawaken this beacon of hope that we find in Berston Field House,” said Genesee County Commissioner Delrico J. Lloyd.
Flint Mayor Sheldon Neeley said this shows the Flint community is coming together.
“It really speaks to who we are as a city. We are Flint strong. We are one community. We are coming together using multiple funding to be able to support this advancement,” Neeley said.
The new facility will include football and soccer fields, a basketball court, a pool, and an outdoor amphitheater.
The first phase of the project is expected to be complete by 2025.
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