New Orleans parks get help from NFL grant

NEW ORLEANS — Youth in the Uptown area near Harrell Stadium are now playing football on the same turf the Baltimore Ravens won Super Bowl XLVII.

As part of the NFL Foundation’s annual $1 million matching grant to the Super Bowl host city, five New Orleans Recreation Department playgrounds have received capital improvements, including Harrell, which re-opened Friday afternoon in a ribbon-cutting ceremony.

“We deserve to have it, and that’s the commitment that we made,” said Vic Richard, CEO of NORD. “Harrell is one piece of the puzzle. It’s about the way life is supposed to be here, like we hear about other places. And that’s the attitude that we’re bringing.”

To receive the matching grant, the City of New Orleans supplied $500,000, and Chervon an initial investment of $500,000, which has grown to $1 million and will continue to rise with the company’s three-year commitment to maintenance at the facilities.

“Once we came here, we said the turf was coming here, great, but why half-do something,” Sakari Morrison, Manager of Policy, Government and Public Affairs at Chevron said of Harrell. “So we decided that we were going to go ahead and put in a new scoreboard, get a new PA system. We also refurbished the basketball courts. We just wanted a fully-renovated site for this community.”

Other parks receiving improvements include Lyons Center, Hunter’s Field, Kingswood Playspot and Pontchartrain Park.

NORD’s facilities service tens of thousands of youth and adults annually, from more than 300 Pee Wee football teams and summer camps to adult leagues.

“I’m incredibly, incredibly pleased for the people who attend Harrell playground, for the coaches, for the kids, for the parents,” said New Orleans City Councilwoman (District A) Susan G. Guidry. “I think that we are looking at an All-star facility now.

“It’s going to have a tremendous impact in terms of making the children feel like they have value because we, the city, are giving them such a great place to play. It’s got to help their self worth. It’s going to help their desire to do well on the field.”