The funding has been awarded by the NFL Foundation/LISC Grassroots Program, a partnership between the NFL Foundation and Local Initiatives Support Corporation (LISC), the nation's leading community development support organization. The program provides middle or high schools and non-profit neighborhood-based organizations in low-to moderate-income areas, with financial and technical assistance to improve the quality, safety, and accessibility of local football fields.
"These field refurbishments will ensure athletes have a safe place to come together, play with friends and enjoy the many benefits sports offer," said NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell. "The NFL Foundation and LISC remain committed to improving the quality and accessibility of fields for communities nationwide."
LISC said the Arizona Cardinals have included the NFL Grassroots Program as one of their community relations initiatives and it is through the generous contributions of the NFL teams that this program is possible.
"As I received the news from the Arizona Cardinals that Marcos de Niza High School received the NFL Foundation Grassroots Grant I was and still am overwhelmed by the generosity of these organizations toward our school and community. This opportunity allows us to continue to positively impact the students, coaches, and program for the greater good, said Principal Sean McDonald. “We are blessed to have community partners, such as the Arizona Cardinals and NFL to give back to our great students and coaches. This will inspire all of us to work harder and strive to reach our highest goals for our student-athletes. Such a wonderful way to kick off 2017. The Padres will make the Arizona Cardinals and our community proud!"
Athletics, clubs and activities are an important connection to school curriculum, culture and pride. The Padres varsity football team has been a state championship contender in its division for the past four years with record numbers of parents, families and community members attending the games. Junior varsity and freshmen football programs have also had winning records.
The field is also utilized regularly by other student groups, including Tempe Union’s Army Junior Reserve Officer Training Corps (JROTC), Marcos de Niza’s marching band, PE classes, and boys and girls soccer and track teams. Community organizations are also welcome to request and reserve the use of the fields across Tempe Union High School District. However, the current condition of the field has caused the District and Marcos de Niza to limit its use.
Reconditioning the field will allow additional teams and groups to host practices and competitions and will also allow community organizations that had to be turned away in the past, to request the use of the fields when they are not being used for school-related activities.
The project is scheduled to be completed by the start of the 2017-2018 school year.
Marcos de Niza is the second Tempe Union high school football field to benefit from the generosity of the Arizona Cardinals. As part of their Neighborhood Heroes program, the organization recently teamed up with Walmart to renovate the field at Mountain Pointe’s Karl Kiefer Stadium. Cardinals Vice President Nicole Bidwill, retired players Frank Sanders and Patrick Hunter, cheerleaders and Big Red took part in the official celebration on Sept. 18, 2015.