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New Community Football Field Dedicated in Chelsea


CHELSEA, MA (Nov. 11, 2003) - The dedication of the new synthetic turf football field at Chelsea High School today would have been notable if only to acknowledge that local Pop Warner League players -- and plenty of other Chelsea youth - now have an excellent place to play.

But the ceremony, attended by neighbors, Chelsea officials, community developers, members of the New England Patriots and the National Football League, did much more. It also saluted the NFL, which through its Grassroots program provided $100,000 for the field renovation. That grant is among $10 million that the NFL, through its teams and players organization, has contributed since 1998 to renovate nearly 100 community football fields nationwide. The NFL and Local Initiatives Support Corporation (LISC), its partner in the Grassroots program, today announced the latest rounds of Grassroots grants to communities in 12 cities across the country.
"Community revitalization is measured by more than construction cranes and concrete," said LISC Board Chairman Robert E. Rubin during the dedication ceremony. "We applaud the NFL and its Youth Football Fund for recognizing the impact that football fields have on local communities, and for supporting their restoration and maintenance. Public spaces such as this Chelsea field are critical to the health of every neighborhood and the future of its children."

The Grassroots program, funded by the NFL, its teams, and the NFL Players Association, not only provides recreational opportunities for children in underserved neighborhoods, it acts as a catalyst for the redevelopment of those communities.

"Football fields are an integral part of creating safe, viable and healthy communities," said NFL Commissioner Paul Tagliabue. "Not only do these fields enable youths to play sports, but they also provide areas for recreation, education, and relaxation that contribute to the overall quality of life in neighborhoods throughout the nation."

The field in Chelsea is a good example. Families and kids loved it, but inadequate drainage frequently left it unplayable. And even in good weather, play was limited to 250 hours of use in the fall so the grass could regenerate during the rest of the year.

But now, thanks to the Grassroots program, Chelsea Neighborhood Housing Services, the City of Chelsea, MetroLacrosse, and the Chelsea Public Schools, the field has new synthetic turf which makes it available for year-round activity, giving current players expanded access and opening up the field for broader community use.

"We want to keep kids off the streets and in the parks," said Tony Lepordo, president of the Chelsea Pop Warner League, which has 150 players and 125 cheerleaders, ages 7-15. In 2001, the League's midget division (13-15 year-olds) won the Pop Warner national championship. Lepordo sees the field not only as a place for recreation, but also as a forum for social interaction.

"We had our first home game last month and 300 people were in the stands," he said. "They loved the field."

So do the kids using it, who today benefited from a football clinic directed by former New England Patriots players, including Mike Haynes, Andre Tippet and Cedric Jones.

The cost for renovating the field was $1.07 million. The City of Chelsea contributed $572,000, MetroLacrosse $300,000, the Grassroots program $100,000, and the Chelsea Public Schools $98,000.

"Chelsea is a city with an admirable sports tradition," said Robert Kraft, owner of the New England Patriots. "I can't think of a place more deserving of a first-rate sports facility. My family and I have been involved in the Chelsea community and its youth for many years. I recognize that organized sports are vital for the development of young people in the areas of teamwork, discipline and exercise. These programs for a long time were limited in this community because of a lack of facilities. This new sports field increases the number of opportunities for kids to participate in sporting activities."

About The NFL Youth Football Fund
In 1998, the NFL Youth Football Fund was established by the NFL in collaboration with the NFL Players Association. The fund promotes positive youth development while insuring the health and future of football at the grassroots level. The $150 million fund has supported numerous programs aimed at strengthening America's youth football movement. The NFL has many youth programs underwritten by the fund, such as and Junior Player Development. Innovative and effective youth football programs have resulted from teaming up with the National Football Foundation on the Coaching Academy and Play It Smart programs, and LISC on the NFL Grassroots program. The league's National Youth Football partners also include the Amateur Athletic Union, American Youth Football, Boys & Girls Clubs of America, Jewish Community Centers Association, National Police Athletic League, National Recreation & Park Association, Pop Warner Little Scholars, and YMCA of the USA. The NFL's Local Agency Grant Programs have enabled young people across the country to participate in flag and tackle football. Through their varied youth football development initiatives, NFL teams have given youngsters access to numerous quality programs.

About LISC
Established in 1980, Local Initiatives Support Corporation (LISC) is the nation's largest nonprofit supporter and funder of community development activities. With nearly 25 years of proven strategies for investing and turning around high-risk neighborhoods,

LISC combines corporate, government and philanthropic assistance to provide
community development corporations with the necessary resources to revitalize underserved communities. Through 2,300 funders and donors, LISC has raised over $4.5 billion and built or rehabilitated 128,000 affordable homes and 20 million square feet of retail, community and educational space. LISC has offices in 38 urban communities and rural programs in 37 states. For additional information about LISC, visit

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