By Jenn Walker and Linda Gross
Current Suns player P.J. Tucker and Suns alumnus Steven Hunter came to Miami to join APS and the Town of Miami in a dedication held Friday at the newly-renovated gymnasium.
“In my city, we had to scratch and claw for money to build facilities,” Hunter told Globe Miami Times. “There were few places we could go to play basketball. [Those] facilities were not as nice as this.”
Hunter grew up in Chicago, and started playing basketball in third grade. Playing ball was his outlet, and it was what kept him out of gangs and trouble.
“Whenever you start a new facility for kids, it’s always a positive,” he added.
The Town of Miami was selected as the recipient of a Suns-APS grant earlier this year. This is the eighth court that the Suns and APS have provided grant funding for since 2006.
As Miami Mayor Rosemary Castaneda pointed out, it took many partners to achieve this kind of first rate, top-to-bottom restoration of the Bullion Plaza gymnasium. Going beyond the initial grant offered through APS and the Phoenix Suns, Freeport McMoRan, Resolution Copper Mining, BHP Billiton and KGHM International all stepped up to contribute to the project.
Wes Sukosky, head of Miami’s Public Works Department, said his crew had just seven weeks to repaint the interior and exterior of the building, repaint and repair the ceiling, and work on the lights, bathrooms, kitchen, etc. He gives Mayor Castaneda a lot of credit for not only bringing this project to completion, but putting in long hours herself cleaning and readying the facility.
Sukosky and his crew completely refurbished two backboards. There was talk of replacing them at first, but Sukosky said he could refurbish them. The money that was saved went into other aspects of the remodel, and the boards themselves turned out looking brand ‘spanking’ new.
The newly restored Bullion Plaza gymnasium will now be available for youth sports as well as private and community events.
“Miami has lost their share of historical places,” Castaneda noted. “But this building belongs to this community, to the Town of Miami.”
After the dedication, kids immediately hit the court to shoot some hoops.