INGLEWOOD, Calif. (AP) — NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell, joined by Los Angeles Rams owner Stan Kroenke and Chargers owner Dean Spanos, promoted a new campaign Thursday to give children access to more parks and athletic equipment, featuring what was described as the sports version of an ice cream truck.
Goodell and the owners were among those who dedicated the Park on the Move campaign at Jefferson Elementary School in Inglewood, home to SoFi Stadium. The dedication was part of a larger event aimed at marking $2 million in grants the NFL is providing 56 community organizations through its Super Bowl Legacy Grant program.
Park on the Move will feature oversized vans equipped with a skate park, basketball hoops and soccer nets, along with other sporting equipment. They will travel to areas where park space is limited. A staff of coaches and mentors will travel along.
There are just 0.2 acres of park land per 1,000 people in the Lennox community where Jefferson is located. Norma Garcia, the director of LA County department of parks and recreations, called this a low mark relative to other metropolitan areas.
“The big game is this weekend, but this is about leaving a legacy in the community that means so much to us,” Goodell said. “This is a big day for us to make that lasting legacy to this community.”
The league has drawn criticism for having the $5 billion SoFi Stadium, host of Sunday’s Super Bowl, built in an area that’s long struggled with poverty and concerns about gentrification.
Spanos, whose family has owned the Chargers since 1984, said it was his father Alex’s dream to give back to the community.
“This is a community that needs help,” said Spanos, whose family has owned the Chargers since 1984. “There’s a lot of communities that are worthy and needy in LA and everywhere, but this is our home.
“Anything we can do to help, we’re there for this community.”
Another of the grantees is Kids in the Spotlight, a Burbank-based nonprofit that helps youths interested in film careers tell stories that matter to them.
Kids in the Spotlight treasurer Nita Schimmel said the NFL’s return to the Los Angeles area has helped groups like theirs in a big way.
“They’re stepping forward to say, ‘We are here, we are part of the community, we want this community to be better,’” Schimmel said. “They’re not just saying it, they’re actually supporting it financially.”
Preston Shoemaker is a sports journalism student at Penn State.
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