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RACINE — Racine County football players will have a new synthetic-turf football field thanks to the Green Bay Packers.

The Packers secured the grant through the NFL Foundation Grassroots Program, which is to provide $250,000 to the Racine Unified School District to build a state-of-the-art football facility at Pritchard Park with artificial turf, proper seating, goal posts and other amenities.

The announcement was made Wednesday.

“The Packers, along with the NFL Foundation and (Local Initiatives Support Corporation), are proud to provide this grant, which will help contribute to the creation of a safe, engaging environment for high school and youth athletes,” said Ryan Fencl, Packers football outreach coordinator. “Football and other team sports can help young people learn valuable lessons and develop as individuals, friends and teammates, and this facility will provide an excellent place for the community to come together.”

The grant is made up of funds from the Packers, NFL Foundation and LISC.

“The NFL Foundation/LISC Grassroots Grant will support our collaborative efforts with Racine County to create state-of-the-art athletic facilities for the Racine community,” said Eric Gallien, Racine Unified superintendent. “RUSD is thankful to the NFL Foundation and LISC for recognizing the need in our community and helping us to realize our vision. This will benefit countless youth and families for many years to come.”

The football field is planned to have multiple uses for other sports and events when completed.

The county has partnered with RUSD to build a sports complex at Pritchard Park, and each entity has committed $3 million to the effort.

The county has also been working on securing private donations and grants to help build the facilities.

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2020 target

County officials say they expect to begin construction of the football/multi-use stadium at Pritchard Park early this fall and anticipate completing the project during summer 2020, so that local schools and organizations may utilize the field for fall 2020 sporting events.

The grant is the 17th one given by the Packers since 1998 for Wisconsin organizations working on new or renovated athletic fields and stadiums, with the cumulative total now at $2.61 million.

“This grant award marks another momentous step in bringing our vision for Pritchard Park to life,” Racine County Executive Jonathan Delagrave said. “As we move forward on the next phase of the SC Johnson Community Sports Complex, we are grateful and ecstatic that the NFL Foundation and LISC value and support this project and will help us create a true community asset for RUSD and Racine County as a whole.”

The NFL Foundation/LISC Grassroots Field Grant, a partnership between the NFL Foundation and LISC, has supported the construction or renovation of 365 football fields nationwide since 1998.

During that time, the NFL Foundation has granted nearly $61 million to revitalize playing fields in underserved neighborhoods. Fields are newly built or significantly renovated with improvements such as irrigation systems, lights, bleachers, scoreboards, goal posts and turf. Grassroots grants are issued once established funding thresholds are reached for each project.

“Safe, accessible places to play and exercise are part of what makes neighborhoods healthy and sustainable,” said Beverly Smith, LISC’s vice president of sports and recreation. “Our partnership with the NFL Foundation is devoted to increasing the quality and number of those places.”

LISC identifies local, nonprofit, community-based agencies that have an interest in building or refurbishing football fields in schools and neighborhood parks.

Through the program, local agencies are provided with the necessary financing and technical assistance to improve the quality and safety of fields in their communities. The agencies oversee the construction, maintenance and programming of the fields.

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Reporter

Ricardo Torres covers federal, state and Racine County politics along with the Village of Mount Pleasant. He bleeds Wisconsin sports teams.

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