Promise kept: NFL helps fund youth centersBy BABITA PERSAUD, Times Staff Writer
© St. Petersburg Times
published February 3, 2002
TAMPA -- Last year, it was Tampa Bay's turn. We hosted the parties. We had Ricky Martin, Daisy Fuentes, Carson Daly, Brian McKnight.
Now, Super Bowl stardom falls to New Orleans.
And us? What do we have?
NFL money. The NFL has followed through on a promised $1-million donation, which is helping build one youth center and renovate another in Tampa.
The centers, at Jackson Heights in the city and near Mort Elementary School in North Tampa, are expected to open in the spring.
The centers are part of the Youth Education Town program, or YET, which the NFL created shortly after the Los Angeles riots following the acquittal of police officers accused of beating Rodney King. The riots prompted much soul-searching on matters of race and urban despair.
Long a supporter of charities, the NFL decided to leave something tangible in each Super Bowl host community, said Stephanie Owens Royster, a spokeswoman for the YET project.
The NFL grant was pooled with another $1-million in private and corporate money, and city and county funds of about $500,000.
The first YET center opened in Los Angeles in 1993. Tampa is the first city to gain two centers. The center at Mort Elementary School is an expansion to an existing community recreation center. The addition will house a computer lab and rooms for arts and crafts.
The Jackson Heights center replaces a little white house, which had stood at Lake Avenue and 34th Street since the mid 1930s. It was razed on Martin Luther King Jr. Day last year.
"The old building could fit in the new gym, threefold," said Regina Peoples, a supervisor for the city's recreation department.
Outside, there is a kickball field and a playground. And there's a new football field, made possible by a $125,000 donation from the Glazer family, owner of the Tampa Bay Bucs.
The center "is the biggest thing to go up in this community for a long time," Peoples said.
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