FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE WITH RIBBON CUTTING PHOTOS: 5:00 p.m. September 24, 2021                    


Jacklin Rhoads, Office of the Attorney General, State of Pennsylvania

Maita Soukup, Philadelphia Parks & Recreation

Photos here

New Amenities at Christy Rec Center Attract Teens

Attorney General and Mayor celebrate the City’s first esports room and refurbished basketball court designed to welcome older youth into the West Philadelphia rec center 

Philadelphia – Today Mayor Jim Kenney joined State of Pennsylvania Attorney General Josh Shapiro, City Councilmember Jamie Gauthier, 18th District Police Captain Matthew Gillespie, and Philadelphia Parks & Recreation Commissioner Kathyrn Ott Lovell to celebrate facility improvements that are making the Christy Recreation Center a safe destination for West Philadelphia teens and young adults. 

The elected officials joined youth, residents, and Philadelphia 76ers community ambassador World B Free to celebrate newly upgraded basketball backboards, and a brand new esports gaming room made possible with support from 5Below, Nerd Street Gamers, and the families Behind the Badge Foundation. 

“Rec centers, courts, and playgrounds are safe places for our children to learn, play and grow,” said Mayor Jim Kenney. “As we work to address our city’s gun violence crisis, deepening partnerships between community, police, and local leaders is critical. Through the progress made here at Christy, we see the benefits of making small investments to support community-driven teen programming. 

Court upgrades lay foundation for new approach to anti-violence

Brand new plexi-glass backboards were recently installed at Christy Recreation Center to mark the start of a popular new Friday night youth basketball program, organized by Parks & Rec in partnership with the Philadelphia Police Department, Attorney General Shapiro, and Philadelphia City Council. 

“The Christy Rec Center is a safe haven for young people,” said Attorney General Josh Shapiro. “I am inspired to see the community and local businesses respond to violence by coming together with law enforcement and elected leaders to expand on- and off-court programs for teens and older youth.” 

The weekly program attracts an average of 50-100 teens a week, and is contributing to the overall increase in recreational programming now available to older youth in the West Philadelphia neighborhood.

A Philly First: Esports Room at the Rec

Additionally, leaders celebrated the brand new Esports Room at Christy Rec, a first for Philadelphia Parks & Recreation. As esports skyrocket in popularity, Parks & Rec partnered with 5Below, Nerd Street Gamers, and the Beyond the Badge Foundation to reimagine an under-utilized space in the rec center into a community esports center. 

Gaming chairs, headsets, and consoles are fitted out to allow budding esports gamers to play individually, in groups, and host tournaments. The Esports Room was funded by a grant from the Families Behind the Badge Foundation, with additional support from 5 Below. Speciality gaming chairs have been donated by Nerd Street Gamers.

“Rec centers are safe and sacred places for young people,” said Commissioner Kathryn Ott Lovell. “Whether it’s shooting hoops on the basketball court or playing NBA2K in the esports room, when young people are here we know they are safe, cared for, and engaged. We are so grateful to our partners at the Families Behind the Badge Foundation, 5 Below, and Nerd Street Gamers for partnering with us to provide more diverse programming to the kids in this community. ” 

The Christy esports room is part of a larger esports partnership with Nerd Street gamers and Philadelphia Parks & Recreation that included: the first esports virtual tournament this spring; enhanced esports activities at PPR summer camps; and esports training for recreation leaders. 

“We are happy to support Philadelphia Parks & Recreation by donating gaming chairs to the Esports Room at the Christy Recreation Center,” said John Fazio, CEO and Founder of Nerd Street Gamers. “Our goal at Nerd Street is to provide opportunity and access to technology for gamers and the Esports Room will do just that. We look forward to seeing the gamer community grow at the Christy Recreation Center.” 

Christy Recreation Center is one of 159 City of Philadelphia rec centers. The center offers programming six days a week, including a popular afterschool program, basketball clinics, esports, and summer camps. 


Philadelphia Parks & Recreation (PPR) advances the prosperity of the city and the progress of its people through stewardship of nearly 10,200 acres of public land and waterways, and management of 500 recreation buildings, 166 miles of trail, and 250 playgrounds. PPR offers safe, enjoyable recreation, environmental and cultural programs and events throughout Philadelphia’s parks and recreation system. PPR promotes the well-being and growth of the city’s residents by connecting them to the natural world, to each other and to fun, physical and social opportunities. In 2017, Philadelphia Parks & Recreation Commissioner Kathryn Ott Lovell, set about implementing the park system’s first strategic plan: Our Path to 2020 and Beyond. As a result, PPR is undertaking a period of historic change, setting the department on a course to become a modern, equitable and exceptional parks and recreation system. Visit us at, and follow @philaparkandrec on Facebook, Twitter, or Instagram.