SALINAS, Calif. -- 42 acres of green grass off Constitution Blvd. next to the soccer fields, do nothing but take up space. But soon it will be home to ten new outdoor soccer fields and one indoor soccer arena.
"It was born out of the need to provide more recreational opportunity for the youth in our community," said Alex Reynoso, VP of the Salinas Regional Sports Authority.
Reynoso said the idea started 4 years ago and now that the U.S. Soccer Foundation has granted the project $200,000 it is in full swing. The project has also received support from the California Endowment and Taylor Farms.
The Constitution Soccer Fields are closed right now, they close for the winter months, but this new project will provide a facility open all year long. The facility is expected to provide new jobs for the youth in the community as well as be a venue to host soccer tournaments. Reynoso said these tournaments will bring more people to Salinas which means more money for the city.
Right now, Reynoso said the number of parks in the city is a fraction of what the state standard is. Opening up more soccer fields would mean less competition for leagues that share the limited space now.
However, the mission is more than just creating new fields.
"If we can give these kids something to aspire something to belong and fill their day, that's what we're about," said Reynoso. He added that more fields are a perfect way to combat crime, giving teens a reason to stay off the streets and stay active.
Reynoso said soccer is important to many in Salinas. After tweeting about this story on the Central Coast News Twitter page many agree. Dozens of followers said soccer has changed their lives. Many look up to local soccer celeb David Estrada, who went to Alisal High and now plays for the Seattle Sounders.
Reynoso said the location of these fields is symbolic, in the center of Salinas or in other terms, neutral territory
"I would much rather build soccer facilities than build many more detention facilities," said Reynoso.
The project is still in its beginning stages but if things run smoothly, Reynoso said changes should start happening by the end of this year.
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