By MPRB and Harvey Winje
Phillips Community soccer playing youth and adults, Hennepin County, and the Minneapolis Park and Recreation Board (MPRB) celebrated the completion of work on Stewart Field with a Grand Opening celebration, complete with music, balloon artists and face painters, Thursday, May 19.
In the culturally diverse Phillips Community of south Minneapolis with more than 7,000 youth*, the availability of a durable and high quality soccer field is essential. Stewart Park at 2700 12th Avenue was hard and worn from overuse. In the Fall of 2010 it was totally renovated including synthetic turf that will improve safety, reduce potential injuries and withstand high volumes of repetitive use with funding from a Hennepin County Youth Sports Grant.
*[See “Phillips’ Youth petition helped create the new Stewart Park Soccer Field” Alley Newspaper, June 2011, page 7]
“Through community involvement, the importance of having a good-quality soccer field in this neighborhood became extremely evident. Soccer is a very popular activity among children and adults in this neighborhood and there were far too few safe places to play soccer outdoors,” said Scott Vreeland, District 3 MPRB Commissioner. “The Hennepin County Youth Sports Grants made it possible for us to meet the community needs and provide a superior field for the neighborhood to share.”
Neighborhood youth gathered on the new field for a soccer camp, kicked off by Hennepin County Commissioner Peter McLaughlin after enthusiastically contagious words from Vreeland, McLaughlin and Al Bangoura, MPRB Community Service Area leader.
“Young people in this part of town need a high quality soccer field that can be used even after wet weather. The County is proud to partner with the Community, the parents and the Park Board to make this new facility a reality,” McLaughlin said.
Stewart Park received $225,000 from the Hennepin County Youth Sports Grant program, plus $75,000 from the MPRB. The Hennepin County Youth Sports Grants allow municipalities, park districts or school districts to create, expand or improve sport or recreational facilities to enhance opportunities for athletics and recreation.