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NFL Kicks In $200,000 For Neighborhood Football Fields in Jacksonville

Two $100,000 Grants Help Pay for Improvements to Pine Forest and East Arlington Fields

Two heavily used football fields in inner city Jacksonville neighborhoods will soon get professional facelifts thanks to two $100,000 grants provided by NFL Charities and Local Initiatives Support Corporation (LISC).

The two fields, in Pine Forest and East Arlington, will be leveled, regraded and reseeded. Irrigation systems will be installed or upgraded. In addition, a pressbox will be built at the Pine Forest field, and bleachers installed in East Arlington.

"This is a great day for the NFL, the Jaguars and the youth of Jacksonville," said Delores Barr Weaver, co-owner of the Jaguars and CEO/chair of the Jaguars Foundation. "We are proud to be part of this effort, and we congratulate the sponsors - the Jacksonville Housing Partnership, the Pine Forest Athletic Association and the Police Athletic League - for their dedication to area youth demonstrated by their efforts to create sports fields anyone would be proud to play upon."

The two fields received funding through the Community Football Fields program, a joint program of NFL Charities Youth Football Fund and LISC, the nation's leading community development support organization. They are the second and third fields in Jacksonville to receive funding through the program, which to date has provided some $6.5 million over four years to support football field development efforts in more than 50 communities nationwide. Last year, the first NFL-LISC grant funded a field renovation project at the Woodland Acres Boys and Girls Club.

The Jacksonville Housing Partnership (JHP) is an eight-year-old organization working to develop quality affordable rental housing and promote homeownership and home improvement for low- and moderate-income households in Jacksonville. JHP is working with the Pine Forest Athletic Association on the rehabilitation of the Pine Forest football field, which is at the center of a comprehensive redevelopment effort in the south Jacksonville community that is part of the City's Intensive Care Neighborhood Program.

The Pine Forest Athletic Association is a 30-year-old volunteer association that currently serves about 200 area youth through its football, cheerleading and baseball programs. The football program is part of the local Pop Warner football league. Currently, 25 games are played at the Pine Forest sporting complex on a field that was not designed for football. Redesign of the field will be the last piece in the redevelopment of the sporting complex that the Jacksonville Department of Parks, Recreation and Entertainment began last year. To date, the City has invested $700,000 in the complex, including $500,000 to renovate the community center, $64,000 for the swimming pool and $118,000 to build a concession stand at the football field.

"This new field will be an incredible asset to this community," Pine Forest Athletic Association President Ronald Hayward said. "Football is the favorite fall pastime of many Americans. By upgrading this field, we can reduce the chance of injuries resulting from playing on a substandard surface, increase the enjoyment of the sport, and expand the number of youth able to play on this field to 600."

Total cost of the field and pressbox project is $123,550, and includes an in-kind contribution from the general contractor - Florida Carter Corporation - of $23,550.

The football field in East Arlington supports the Police Athletic League of Jacksonville (PAL) football, soccer and related programming. PAL has been serving the youth and families of Jacksonville since 1972 with a variety of after school and athletic programming.

The East Arlington field was originally designed as a golf course and needs to be leveled, regraded and reseeded, in addition to having an irrigation system installed. PAL anticipates more than 1,100 area youth will use this field as part of its tackle and flag football leagues, cheerleading programming and other services. In addition, the Greater Arlington Soccer Association, Boy and Girl Scouts, the NFL Flag Football Tournament and others will use the field for sports activities and other events.

"A new and improved East Arlington football field will greatly expand the Police Athletic League's ability to provide the youth of Jacksonville with high-quality and enjoyable after school and athletic opportunities," PAL executive director Lt. Lawrence V. Hayes said. "This grant, plus the in-kind contributions we have received from W.G. Pitts and the Florida Carter Corporation, will make this dream a reality."

W.G. Pitts Company is contributing construction management services for the construction of the new restrooms at the field, and Florida Carter is making a $19,350 donation towards the field, which is anticipated to cost $119,350.

The Community Football Field program is part of NFL Charities Youth Football Fund, a multi-million dollar partnership of the NFL and the NFL Players Association to ensure youth across the country have the opportunity to enjoy the game of football. The Jacksonville Jaguars and the other NFL franchises provided the grants to capitalize the fund.

The Community Football Field program allows the NFL to extend this effort into urban neighborhoods across the country. This partnership with LISC, the nation's leading community development support organization, places the improved neighborhood football fields in comprehensive community renewal efforts.

"Since 1979, LISC has worked to help local neighborhood groups across the country rebuild their communities," said Joni Foster, Program Director, LISC/Jacksonville. "Improving recreational facilities is an essential part of that effort. Healthy neighborhoods need stable housing, quality commercial options, employment opportunities, and safe and decent places where our children can play. LISC is proud to be part of this effort here in Jacksonville."

Since its creation 20 years ago, LISC has invested $3 billion for the community renewal activity of hundreds of community nonprofits across the country. LISC has used that investment to leverage another $3.5 billion to help local nonprofit agencies develop 100,000 new homes and apartments and 12 million square feet of commercial, industrial, retail and community space, including sports fields, daycare centers, shopping centers and health clinics.

For more information, contact: Joni Foster (LISC) - (904) 353-1300

Peter Racine (Jaguars Foundation) - (904) 633-6216

Carrie Davis (Jacksonville Housing Partnership) - (904) 398-4424

Johnny Rembert (Police Athletic League) - (904) 355-3308

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