The spirit of the 1984 Olympic Games in Los Angeles was rekindled on Monday on the 30th anniversary of the opening ceremonies as Olympians, city officials and young soccer players came together to announce a $10.5 million renovation for the soccer facility at Griffith Park.
The project at the John Ferraro Athletic Fields, located near the intersection of the Ventura (134) and Golden State (5) freeways, is currently only partially funded.
The LA84 Foundation and the city of Los Angeles have each allocated $1 million, and approximately $1.5 million has been raised from private foundations and organizations. Supporters hope to raise the remaining funding through private donations.
“Thirty years ago, the lights were all on Los Angeles,” said Los Angeles City Councilman Tom LaBonge, 4th District. “[The late] Councilman Ferraro was instrumental in bringing the 1984 Olympic Games to Los Angeles, and he would be proud to see that we are carrying forward the spirit of those games today by making these soccer fields accessible to so many Angelenos.”
Olympic medalists Rafer Johnson, Greg Louganis, Edwin Moses and Nelson Vails joined LaBonge and Councilman Mitch O’Farrell, 13th District, for the announcement. The facility is currently comprised of three fields used by adult leagues and four fields for youth leagues. It is the largest multi-field soccer facility in the city, according to the LA84 Foundation.
Plans call for the existing grass and dirt surfaces on the fields to be replaced with synthetic turf that will not require watering, which is particularly important during a period of extended drought, LaBonge said. The fields currently require approximately 10 million gallons of water per year.
New lighting, parking, restrooms, concessions, walking paths, a playground and picnic area will also be added to the site. The project is expected to triple the capacity at the facility to 340,000 players annually. The adult soccer fields could be converted as needed to accommodate additional youth soccer programs.
Johnson, who earned a gold medal in the decathlon in the 1960 Olympic Games in Rome, said the new project will give countless future athletes an opportunity to excel.
“This project will provide a safe, state-of-the-art venue for hundreds of thousands of kids and adults from all over the city to enjoy, a fitting tribute to the fine athletes who competed here in Los Angeles thirty years ago and a reminder of the enormous benefits the ’84 games continue to bring to our city,” he said.
The LA84 Foundation manages an endowment that was created with $93 million in funding generated by the 1984 Olympic Games in Los Angeles.
Through investment, the organization continues to generate funding that is re-invested in communities throughout Los Angeles County, and in neighboring counties stretching from Santa Barbara to San Diego.
During the past three decades, more than $220 million has been invested in local projects such as new parks, recreation centers, sports facilities and museums.
“The LA84 Foundation’s mission is to support youth sports and to enhance the tradition of youth sports,” foundation president Anita DeFrantz said. “We have raised $3.5 million, and will work hard to get to $10.5 million.”
The new synthetic fields will replace playing surfaces that have been worn down over the years. A significant portion of the existing fields are dirt or are in such poor condition that some tournaments or regulation games cannot be played at the location. The new fields will allow for more practices, games and tournaments, according to DeFrantz.
Plans call for the project to be built in two phases, with the four smaller youth fields to be completed in July 2015. The rest of the project is anticipated to be completed one year later.
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