Bengals continue fundraising for new gymnasium

Almost there: The Bustleton Bengals are about $17,000 away from raising the necessary $135,000 for a new gym planned for Robert Hayes Playground. MARIA POUCHNIKOVA / TIMES PHOTO

The Bustleton Bengals youth sports organization is slowly but surely raising the funds needed for construction of a new gymnasium.

The gym is planned for Robert Hayes Playground, at Roosevelt Boulevard and Conwell Avenue, where the group’s clubhouse is located.

City Councilman Brian O’Neill (R-10th dist.) has committed to funding 90 percent of the project, and the Bengals are working hard to try to raise the rest.

The estimated overall cost is $1.35 million. BSI Construction will be the builder.

The gym would be named in honor of John Marynowitz, a former cop seriously injured in a 1993 shooting that claimed the life of fellow officer Robert Hayes.

The Bengals are about $17,000 away from raising the necessary $135,000.

“We getting a little here and a little there,” said Vince Tarducci, gym project director.

“We can see light at the end of the tunnel,” said Kevin Hughes, president of the club.

The Bengals have had a clothing drive and beef-and-beer and Coach Bag Bingo events.

Walmart has been, by far, the most generous donor. Crown Holdings has also been very generous.

The Bengals are teaming up with the Greater Bustleton Civic League for other fundraising opportunities, perhaps engraved brick purchases.

“We’re not giving up. We’re there. We’re gonna get it done,” said Chris McNicholas, the gym fundraising director.

The gym would be attached to the clubhouse. It would feature a full-length basketball court, two side courts, batting cages, an expanded kitchen, a small meeting room, storage space, handicapped-accessible bathrooms and, maybe, bleachers.

The building would be roughly 70 feet wide by 120 feet long. It would be used mostly for basketball and indoor soccer games and practices.

The Bengals have 17 travel basketball teams for boys and girls, along with an in-house program for younger kids. Those teams play and practice at local public schools.

The organization hopes for groundbreaking sometime in 2015. Construction is expected to take up to 10 months.

Donations to the gym fund can be sent to Bustleton Bengals Club, P.O. Box 6103, Philadelphia, PA 19115.

For more information on the gym initiative, go to ••