Community Still Waiting for New Turf Eight Years After Groundbreaking Ceremony | Athletic Business

Community Still Waiting for New Turf Eight Years After Groundbreaking Ceremony

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Oakland parents are asking where hundreds of thousands of dollars went that was donated for new artificial turf at a popular sports field. 

The parents say synthetic turf fields were set to be installed at a baseball and football field, so kids could use the spaces year-round. However, eight years after the Oakland Raiders donated $200,000 to replace grass with turf, the community is still waiting. 

At the time, former mayor Jean Quan, told the local ABC affiliate about the benefits of installing artificial turf. 

"We have very small Parks and Rec maintenance crew," Quan said. "We rely heavily on volunteers so artificial turf here will take some pressure off of that."

The Oakland Parks and Recreation Department that the artificial turf would allow the field to stay open during the rainy months and serve an additional 2,500 young people. 

Shelly Flood, daughter of ex-MLB centerfielder Curt Flood after whom the fields are named, said the delay is devastating. 

"It's appalling. It's disappointing," Flood said. "I'm sure the community there in Oakland feels a little betrayed."

The city actually held a groundbreaking ceremony for what was a $7.1 million plan to upgrade the turf field, new basketball court and field lights. But it never happened, even after the generous donation from the Raider. 

Walte Ore, president of the Oakland Dynamites, one of the team that practices at the fields, was also disgusted with the wait. 

"What the city done with that ceremony and that empty promise, that was like a slap in our face," Ore said. "Where did the money go? That's what I want to know, too, 'cause it didn't come to us, didn't come to our kids. And we were promised something that never, you know, became true." 

ABC reported that the Raiders made their payment to the nonprofit Local Initiatives Support Corporation, which agreed to match the funds with Oakland Parks and Recreation Department. However, in 2016, the city moved the local matching funding for Curt Flood field to another recreation center and as a result, the Raiders said they were unable to move forward with the project. 

It doesn't look good for the project being tackled anytime soon. ABC checked the current list of Oakland's unfunded capital improvement projects through next year, and Curt Flood Field ranks 203rd in importance. In an email the parks department said fundraising for Curt Flood Field fell short, so they had to scale back the plans. Here is their entire statement: 

"The Oakland Parks and Recreation Foundation (formerly Friends of Oakland Parks) partners with local communities and neighbors, civic and cultural leaders, donors and the City of Oakland to support city parks and expand recreational opportunities citywide.

OPRF has partnered with the City of Oakland to advance renovation plans for Curt Flood Field since 2013. OPRF's role has been to serve as fiscal agent and fundraising support, with the City driving decision-making. Despite efforts to put together funding from public and private sources over several years to support the full renovation plan, there was a persistent shortfall. The initial renovation plan became infeasible and the City developed a more modest renovation plan to bring pathways and bathrooms in compliance with ADA, as well as an upgrade of the electrical system for the entire facility and new lighting."

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