EAST TAMPA - A youth football field built with money donated by the National Football League's charitable foundation will soon have a concession stand and restrooms.
Also, the Jackson Heights NFL Yet Center building will be expanded to add an approximately 1,000 square-foot media center and weight room. Construction is under way and should be completed by early December. Tampa City Council last year approved a $425,000 construction contract for the project with funds coming from a $500,000 grant donated by the NFL in 2009.
"They need it," said resident Gloria Davis, whose great-grandson attends after-school programs at the center. "I was so glad this came up."
The NFL donates more than $1 million annually on Youth Education Town Centers that provide recreational activities for at-risk children and teens. The centers often are built in cities that host the Super Bowl.
When Tampa first hosted the event in 2001, NFL money went toward construction of the Jackson Heights' community center at 3310 E. Lake Ave. Nearly four years ago Tampa hosted the Super Bowl a second time. The NFL made a second donation to fund improvements.
Initially, the project included a weight room and activity room, but city officials said after negotiations with the NFL that was changed to a weight room and media center with a broadcast studio, sound booth, editing room and control room.
In addition, the East Tampa Community Revitalization Partnership has agreed to spend about $38,000 to upgrade the football field, said Rev. Essie Sims, the group's president.
The funds are from local property tax revenues collected within the East Tampa special tax district bordered by Hillsborough Avenue, Interstates 275 and 4, and the city limits. The money must be re-invested in the community, generally for infrastructure projects.
The partnership is an advisory group that works with city officials on redevelopment strategies for the district.
The football field is used by at least three youth leagues and adult soccer teams but is pockmarked with holes and floods when it rains. After improvements, Sims said "it can be one of the best in the country."