The San Francisco 49ers and the NFL Foundation proudly partnered to provide a $200,000 grant to the Salinas Sports Complex, a new athletic hub for high school and youth sports on the Monterey Peninsula. The donation is part of the NFL Grassroots Program funded through the NFL Foundation and the Local Initiatives Support Corporation (LISC) to provide non-profit, neighborhood-based organizations with better quality, more durable and safe playing surfaces through financial and technical assistance. Funding and improvement projects are two essential ingredients on which recreational sports complexes rely in order to continue the growth of programs and to provide athletic opportunities to youth in their communities.
"Our goal is to provide low income families and communities with high demand access to strong recreational facilities that provide a health benefit and a positive outlet," shared Marsha G. Murrington, Senior Program Officer, Bay Area LISC, "Football is a great sport which is promoted in the schools and great fields help make the impact that much greater."
It is essential that non-profits manage steady developmental funding, however the $200,000 grant will help catapult the growth and the maintenance of the Salinas Sports Complex. Prior to kickoff of the Monterey County High School All-Star football game, the teams surrounded the field and watched as representatives of the 49ers, including former 49ers special teams player Randy Kirk, joined California Rodeo Vice President Brent Eastman and Warren Wayland, president of Public Recreation Unlimited, to take the field, to receive an oversized check. What was initially thought to be a typical presentation or welcoming address left the crowd amazed when they saw the six-figure donation, which ensured they would have a future on the field and more opportunity for youth throughout Monterey County.
"The benefit of this grant and this complex is incredibly significant for the community," shared Wayland, "Aside from our high school and junior college football teams, this stadium will host youth football, flag football, soccer tournaments, rodeo competitions, and several other large events."
Since 1970, Public Recreation Unlimited has focused on raising funds from the public in order to execute necessary improvements on property devoted to recreational purposes. The NFL Foundation's Grassroots Program was created not only to respond to the shortage of recreational fields and facilities, or immediate needs, but to lay the groundwork for partnerships and resident involvement that will continue to drive these spaces forward. The marriage of the Grassroots Program and Wayland's Public Recreation Unlimited made for the perfect union, each with a mission to continue enhancing the accessibility of and experience at Salinas' newest gem, the Salinas Sports Complex.
"As the saying goes, 'If you build it, they will come,'" said Wayland, "That was proven as we hosted events twenty-eight of the thirty-one days of October, our first month of operation."
In addition to providing a space that highlights the importance of recreational and physical activity, the Grassroots Program coincides with the 49ers mission to improve health and safety on the field. For several years, the San Francisco 49ers have worked directly with USA Football to improve player safety and establish the tools coaches need to run an efficient program which is credible and safe for their athletes. Many of the youth football teams that have undergone training through USA football and the 49ers will put their plays into action on the Salinas Sports Complex field next season, assured they are once again providing the best for their athletes.
"The NFL Grassroots program is a tremendous opportunity for us to support youth football through field creation and renovation," said 49ers Youth Football Manager Jared Muela, "Having a facility that not only the teams who play there can be proud of but the entire Salinas community can enjoy is one of the things that made this project really exciting to support. The Salinas Sports Complex will set the standard for community sporting venues."
"There is a lot to be said about a stadium that hosts teams from near and far and it could not have been done without the charitable contributions and the Grassroots grant," added Wayland, "I believe we have truly built the greatest high school stadium in the State of California."