Young, aspiring soccer players in Bell Gardens have a new and improved place to hone their soccer skills; the recently completed ABC Kids Field at John Anson Ford Park.
Improvements to the field were highlighted last week during an official opening ceremony attended by residents, local officials and one time Mexican soccer star Francisco ‘Paco’ Palencia.
The ribbon-cutting ceremony marked the completion of the 2-phase project started in 2006.
The first phase of the project, installation of synthetic turf soccer field, was originally funded with $353,000 secured by County Supervisor Gloria Molina and the Central Water Basin Company, and completed in July 2011.
The field is located on land owned by Southern California Edison, which has been leased to the city under a 20-year renewable agreement. The Bell Gardens city council approved additional upgrades for the park in July 2012.
Phase 2 of the soccer field improvements includes the addition of shaded spectator seating and outdoor fitness machines. The improvements were paid for with $500,000 in County Prop A Bond Funds and $200,000 in private donations from Athens Waste Services, The Bicycle Casino, The Water Basin Company, U.S. Soccer and the Water Replenishment District of Southern California. The second phase brought the total cost of the field to over $1 million.
“Initially putting together this kind of money could be difficult, but it is really money that is very deserving to this city,” Supervisor Molina said during the opening ceremony. “They are investing it into programs that are really beneficial to our young children,” she said, referring to city officials.
“Even in these very difficult times we’ve been able to go out and seek grants,” noted City Manager Phil Wagner, during the ceremony that drew rousing applause from the spectators. He said Bell Gardens is fortunate to “have businesses in our community that are willing to step forward.”