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Newsbeat: Park Goes Swoosh

A gleaming new football facility has risen from the once storm-tattered grounds of a park in eastern New Orleans and more major public amenities are on the way thanks to a partnership between City Hall, sportswear maker Nike, the Allstate Sugar Bowl and the charitable foundation of Saints quarterback Drew Brees.
Representatives of each group recently unveiled the first phase of the new $3.8 million Victory Field at Joe Brown Park and outlined plans for a new recreation center and running track, all intended to make the park a regional draw for sports competition and an everyday outlet for healthy lifestyles. Other portions of the redevelopment should be completed in time for Nike to hold youth events here as New Orleans hosts the Final Four tournament this spring.

Together it represents a major new investment in a part of New Orleans where recovery from Hurricane Katrina has lagged.

“Through this collaboration, we’re creating not just buildings, but productive opportunities for our young people,” said Mayor Mitch Landrieu.

The Landrieu administration pointed to $10 million of additional work on tap for the park, including a baseball field, tennis courts, playgrounds, an expansion of walking trails, an amphitheater, picnic shelters and concession stands.

The football facility’s turf field and scoreboard have been installed, while still to come are lighting, bleachers, a field house and locker rooms to make Victory Field. The New Orleans Recreation Development Commission and area schools and community groups will use Victory Field, and the partners funding the multi-million dollar redevelopment will also create recreational programs.

“Our collective efforts to change kids’ lives through sports participation will pave the way for a better New Orleans for everyone,” said Elliott Hill, vice president of Nike North America.

Victory Field is the most recent announcement in a slew of wins for youth sports development in New Orleans. Work is also now underway to build a Major League Baseball Urban Youth Academy at Wesley Brown Stadium in Gentilly to promote baseball among minority children. And, late in 2011, Tulane University announced plans to build a 30,000-seat football stadium on its Uptown campus that would be available to youth and high school leagues.

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