The City of Phoenix will apply for a grant with the National Football League Foundation to add a new athletic field in a lower-income Phoenix neighborhood.

A neighborhood committee agreed  to enter into agreement with the NFL’s Grassroots Grant Program, which gives money for cities and non-profit organizations to build new sports fields and courts.

Phoenix would use the grant to add a new athletic playing field at, or near, Edison Park in the Edison-Eastlake neighborhood. 

“The city is undergoing a pretty ambitious plan to redevelop the area in the Edison-Eastlake corridor, an exciting area near our downtown,” District 8 Councilwoman Kate Gallego said in an interview. “There has been a long stakeholder process where we’ve talked to people who live in the community about what they want. We have a lot of young families in the area and they said recreation was a real priority.”

Jackson Myatt said he is a strong believer in the power of athletics and supports the NFL grant wholeheartedly.

“The best way to leverage it is not just the kids getting active, socializing, but it’s more the life lessons you learn from sports: the teamwork, responsibility and respecting other people,” said Myatt.

Myatt believes the new field will “keep kids busy and away from other potentially harmful distractions”

The NFL program is not the only grant the city has its eyes on.

The Edison neighborhood is simultaneously competing for a federal grant from the Choice Neighborhoods program, a locally driven strategy that addresses struggling neighborhoods with distressed public or assisted-housing.

“We hope to use the NFL grant towards our Choice Neighborhood application,” Gallego said. “The federal government really wants to leverage their dollar, so the more local support we can demonstrate, the more we can show we’re doing work on the ground here, the more competitive we’ll be.”

The $30 million Choice grant program draws together local leaders, residents, and stakeholders to design and implement a plan that combats issues in the neighborhood. 

Deputy Housing Director Angela Duncan is working closely with the Choice Neighborhoods Program and has set revitalization goals for the Edison neighborhood.

“We have 577 units of aged, obsolete public housing that we would like to redevelop into modern, energy-efficient rental housing units for low income residents,” said Duncan. “[They] will have the same amenities as anyone else within the community.”

Duncan said one of these amenities will be the NFL-funded sports field.

A sports field doesn’t exist in the community at all, let alone a field of such high quality.

If Phoenix is awarded the grant, the Edison neighborhood will have a long-desired amenity within walking distance of the housing units.

“[The new sports field] will give more opportunities for kids, and frankly adults too, to get more physical fitness opportunities, sports team opportunities,” said Duncan. “It will directly benefit the residents by giving them these opportunities.” 

Some Phoenix council members were concerned about the construction cost of the new field, but Duncan is confident that the finances are not an issue of concern.

Duncan said the NFL program grant requires “a one for one match” which means that the NFL will match a $250,000 sum put forth by the city.

A nonprofit organization called Pride, that is also affiliated with the housing department, has “generously agreed to supply the match,” Duncan said.

The combined $500,000 will be used to fund the field construction, while Parks and Recreation will handle the maintenance post-construction.

Such a prominent benefit for the community at a relatively nonexistent financial responsibility for the city is a no-brainer for Duncan.

“It would be a win-win in providing this amenity for this community through grant funds,” said Duncan.