Patrick Horvat and Ben Cecchini love basketball and they love Baltimore.
Horvat has lived in the Riverside Park community for the past 11 years.
He’s never seen the basketball court there get so much as some freshly painted lines in that time.
“With everything going on in this city, understandably this is just something that got forgotten,” he said.
Cecchini has his own basketball training company called Give N' Grow Basketball.
A few years back he brought one of his clients to the court for a workout.
“It wasn’t inviting, it didn’t feel safe,” Cecchini said. “Broken glass all over the place.“
So, the two friends decided to do something about it.
They spent days ripping up weeds and picking up trash, creating a blank canvas to work on.
“I actually invented this little tape gun on the end of a broomstick with two tape guns and just kind of rolled it out to create the two tape lines where we would paint in between,” said Cecchini.
Horbat is a graphic designer, he used his expertise and an assist from the history books to design the court.
“We have a war image from 1812 of the U.S. Troops fighting the British troops kind of pushing them back and this park was a vital part of that,” said Horbat. “With the other backboard, we did an American flag to kind of represent that and we did it in a style that was kind of vintage and old so it kind of tied into the history.”
They named it “The Fort” and made the center court logo complete with a hidden meaning. Four stars for 1954 the year the park opened.
“Now it’s something that people will take care of be proud of and they’ll want to come down and take pride in it,” said Cecchini. “We were just here a little bit ago and there was like 60 kids after school playing and using the court and I don’t know if those guys would’ve came if it wasn’t this way.”
On the courts first day as The Fort its creators proud of what it’s become.
“It gives them a reason to play, they can keep score they know where the 3-point line is,” Horbat said. “It creates excitement for people that want to play and that’s what it’s about.”
They used all their own money for the nearly $500 in paint and tools used to renovate, but it was a labor of love that they can now enjoy any time they want.
“We played a game of horse yesterday and I got the best of Pat,” Cecchini said. “But we were making some crazy shots, he’ll have to tell you about his glitch shot that he made on me last night.”
The guys didn’t want any recognition or reimbursement, but when someone heard what they did they wanted to help out.
They have their eyes on a few more courts in the city that could use a rebound.