By John Lynds
When Anthony “Tony” Albano passed away in 2014, there was a gigantic void in the neighborhood. Albano was an East Boston legend. He was a larger than life individual who bled blue and gold and was the constant champion of Eastie, its people, its kids, and its way of life.
In his youth, Albano was tremendous athlete that all the younger kids in the neighborhood looked up to and his prowess on the baseball diamond or basketball court was unmatched.
In a fitting tribute to a man that was a mentor to thousands of local youth while growing up in the neighborhood and later as an East Boston High School educator, city officials will dedicate the new Paris Street Gym basketball court in his name when the gym reopens next month.
Mayor Martin Walsh announced that the re-opening celebration of the BCYF Paris Street Community Center and dedication of the Anthony Albano Basketball Court will be held on Saturday, on July 15 at 12:00 p.m. With a price tag of $12 million dollar, the two year renovation is the highlight of the Mayor’s $55 million dollar Capital Plan investment in BCYF projects since 2016.
“For over 100 years this center has been the heart of the community and now it’s ready to serve East Boston residents for another 100 years,” said Walsh. “This renovation is a great example of how we’re enhancing our community spaces to meet the changing needs and populations of our residents. I am excited to see everything that the center is now able to offer. ”
Last week the East Boston Times got a sneak peak at the renovations during a tour by BCYF Deputy Commissioner Mike Sulprizio.
The gut renovation of the center includes interior upgrades of all mechanical systems and boilers, window replacements, exterior and interior door replacements, athletic facility improvements, teledata upgrades and new furniture and equipment.
Among the new features are a teen center, a dance studio, a community room, new exercise spaces, a rock climbing wall, and an entire new floor of programming space. Technology improvements include a computer lab with 26 computers, wifi throughout the building and large screen TVs.
During the reopening celebration, the gym will be dedicated to Anthony “Tony” Albano who impacted thousands of youths during his more than 40 years of service to East Boston High School.
“I can’t think of a more fitting tribute to a man that impacted so many lives in East Boston,” said longtime friend and City Councilor Sal LaMattina. “When I was a kid, my friends and I would always watch Tony (Albano) and the other older guys play basketball. They were our first sports heroes. But his contribution went beyond being a sports mentor to us. He helped so many kids stay in school. He’d give kids money so they could buy their prom dresses or rent tuxedos. He’d call me all the time on behalf of student that needed help. This will be a great tribute to a great man.”