Club Part Of Group Investing $3 Million In Initiative; First 8 Sites Announced, With Some Pitches To Be Ready In 2017

NEW YORK (CBSNewYork) — New York City Football Club is prepared to give back to the community — and then some.

In partnership with Mayor Bill de Blasio, the Mayor’s Fund to Advance NYC and the U.S. Soccer Foundation, the Major League Soccer club and Adidas announced Tuesday the launch of the New York City Soccer Initiative, a public-private partnership that will build and maintain 50 soccer fields in underserved neighborhoods across the five boroughs over the next five years.

According to a release on the NYCFC website, the fields will begin to open for play as early as next year.

“These new soccer fields will be essential in keeping our young New Yorkers safe, active and connected with the community. With this partnership, we are tackling inequalities in all its forms — including in our parks and outdoor spaces,” de Blasio said. “In the city of immigrants, with so many different languages and cultures, the New York City Soccer Initiative will be one of the great tools we use to unify young New Yorkers. My thanks to the Mayor’s Fund, the U.S. Soccer Foundation, New York City Football Club and Adidas for coming together and building a meaningful program.”

Now in its second season of operation, NYCFC has quickly become a drawing card in a city filled with more than its fair share of sports franchises. The club, led by international stars David Villa, Andrea Pirlo and Frank Lampard, is currently in first place in MLS’ Eastern Conference and routinely packs more than 20,000 fans into Yankee Stadium. The club’s president, John Patricof, said Tuesday that NYCFC has wanted all along to become even more a part of the fabric of the city. Contributing to the building of the 50 new fields is just its latest step.

“This is a special day for the New York City Football Club. Community has been an integral part of this Club since the very beginning ” Patricof said in the news release. “We have seen through the work of our extensive community programs that soccer has the ability to change lives. This initiative will give access to pitches and help us deliver our programming to thousands of New York City school kids in every borough, and we are thrilled to be a part of it.”

All four partners have pledged to invest a total of $3 million to build and maintain the fields and provide free programming for New York City schoolchildren focused on healthy, active living and mentorship, the team said.

The release added that the program will “provide after-school soccer and mentoring programs, such as soccer clinics, festivals and youth summits to promote safe, active and connected communities.” The New York City Soccer Initiative will also include a partnership with the city’s Young Men’s Initiative, providing young men of color with mentorship opportunities, the release said.

“The New York City Soccer Initiative is a significant investment in the future of soccer in New York City, and alongside our programs which reach thousands of kids across the five boroughs, this is another example of how we can use the power of soccer to transform young people’s lives and enrich their communities,” NYCFC vice chair Marty Edelman said.

The New York City Soccer Initiative fields “will be constructed to ensure year-round functionality,” the team said. In addition, NYCFC will “create a fund to support the ongoing maintenance of the fields.” The first eight sites are as follows:

1. J.H.S. 166 George Gershwin — Brooklyn, DOE

2. Cypress Hills Houses, Brooklyn, NYCHA

3. Irwin Altman Middle School 172, Queens, DOE

4. South Jamaica Houses, Queens, NYCHA

5. Millbrook Playground, Bronx, Parks

6. Eagle Academy For Young Men Of Staten Island, Staten Island, DOE

7. Harlem Lane Playground, Manhattan, Parks

8. P.S. 083 Luis Munoz Rivera, Manhattan, DOE

“I applaud Mayor de Blasio for fostering this public-private partnership through the New York City Soccer Initiative that will serve youths in our congressional district after the last bell — at Harlem Lane Playground and at P.S. 83 Luis Munoz Rivera School,” U.S. Rep. Charles Rangel said. “The Soccer for Success program will provide consistent mentorship, exercise and recreation to our children who will learn not only to play a sport, but also be part of a team.”

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