Little League player Jordan Fells wasn't born when officials began talking in 1994 about bringing baseball to York.

But before officials dug into the ground Friday to celebrate the beginning of construction of the future Sovereign Bank Stadium, York City Mayor John Brenner told 10-year-old Jordan that the work was being done for the children of his generation.

"What we do in the days and coming months is for you," Brenner said.

Officials heralded the future independent-league stadium, home of the York Revolution, as a place where community members will be able to spend time together as well as a catalyst for economic development. The stadium is to be built near the city's downtown, in the city's Arch Street neighborhood.

Those invited to Friday's groundbreaking cheered the fact that, if all goes according to plan, the stadium will be one of the few in the country to be debt-free when completed, according to York County Industrial Development Authority Chairman John Krout. The stadium is also expected to be perhaps the only stadium in the country to be built without local municipal tax dollars, Brenner said.

And as stadium work gets under way, so will a program for area children organized by Sovereign Bank, said Jim Lynch, chairman and CEO of the company's mid-Atlantic division.

Kids' program: "Our whole foundation and charitable works are mostly with education and youth," Lynch said after the ceremony.

As part of the effort, Sovereign Bank plans to reward children for doing good things -- excelling in school, maintaining good attendance records or performing community service -- with trips to York Revolution baseball games and special recognition once they get there, Lynch said.

"Where better to recognize and reward than at a baseball game where there are 5,000 people?" Lynch said.

Sovereign Bank has done similar things in other cities. Philadelphia has the Sovereign Scholars Program, where students showing commitment to both academics and service get $1,000 scholarships from Sovereign Bank, plus tickets to a Philadelphia Eagles football game and a private tour of the team's training and practice facility.

Something new: Sovereign Bank also wants to start the York Revolution Kids Club, a program that will expand on ideas like the Sovereign Scholars Program, Lynch said. Details of how the program will work are still being developed.

The bank hopes to put the program together over the next months and eventually promote it through the bank's branches, said Nicole Kessler, Sovereign Bank sales and marketing manager. Sovereign Bank is paying $2.7 million for naming rights to the stadium.

Stadium construction is already under way. Officials giving speeches at the groundbreaking had backhoes pushing dirt behind them, and bigger pieces of equipment are expected to be on the site by Wednesday or so, said project manager Blanda Nace.

Most of the project's $32.5 million cost will be paid by state grants and private contributors, including the York Professional Baseball Club, which is a subsidiary of Keystone Professional Baseball. An additional $1 million will come from the York County Industrial Development Authority, which will become the stadium owner.

The $32.5 million stadium is set to be complete by June 2007, in time for the York Revolution to play most or all of its first season there.

--Reach Daina Klimanis at 505-5439 or dklimanis@yorkdispatch.com.