Foundation supports field improvements

by Sam Eggleston
football-157931_640John Sandy and the other members of the Superiorland Soccer Association envisioned a place where kids could play soccer, baseball and ride their BMX bikes without struggling for space, parking or facilities.
It’s a vision the Kaufman Foundation, along with other generous supporters, could see as well.
That’s why the former River Park Sports Complex will bear the name “Kaufman Sports Complex,” and will have outstanding new facilities to match.
But the project still is in need of a little help from the public. Donations are being sought to make up a $58,000 budget shortfall on the $500,000 project.
“The City of Marquette has extended a bridge loan of $160,000 to allow us to get the project built this year and repay it as the funds come in from various sources over the next five to ten years,” said Sandy, president of Superiorland Soccer. “Superiorland Soccer Association has committed additional funds to the project and has promised to repay the bridge loan from future community fundraising efforts and/or player fees.
“The community involvement is necessary so SSA doesn’t have to shoulder the total burden of funding this project, which benefits more than just our youth soccer players.”
Included improvements are building a new pavilion, which will feature more bathrooms and a “tot lot” for families to allow play space for the youngest children, as well as a new access road. These facilities are surrounded by soccer and baseball fields and the BMX park, all of which serve more than 1,500 city and township residents.
baseball-157928_640Peter Kaufman, of the Kaufman Foundation, said the improvements are much needed.
“I think the best example was the twelve-year-old girl, Amanda St. Germain, who talked about waiting thirty minutes to use the bathrooms,” said Kaufman of the young soccer player who spoke during a press conference regarding the project in July. “We want this to benefit the children and the families who use it.”
The current facilities, Sandy said, rely on Port-a-Potties for sanitation and they are limited to the main parking facility.
“With this facility in use every evening during the summer months, there is potential for over 5,000 area residents to be attending the games and activities there in the afternoon,” Sandy said. “The complex cannot reach its full potential without addressing this need.”
Sandy said in addition to the facilities, the road access will provide better safety in the area with the amount of traffic the park gets on a daily basis.
Donations are being encouraged from both businesses and individuals. One way people can help is by purchasing engraved bricks for the project, which are available in small sizes for $60 or large for $160. A donation of $300 will allow donors to have their names inscribed on the Superiorland Soccer Association permanent donor board, which will be featured at the complex.
“We hope the general public will also take advantage of these and buy a paving brick that can be engraved with names to recognize the donor,” Sandy said. “Additional fundraising activities are being developed and will be announced in the future.”
The project has seen impressive support from the community. Recently the association received a $200,000 pledge toward the project from the Kaufman Foundation and at a press conference held at Marquette City Hall in early July, Peter Kaufman presented a $60,000 check.
bike-bmx-162103_640“The Kaufman Foundation’s focus is children,” Kaufman said. “This project is going to help children and, by extension, their families. The facilities will be better and the pavilion will allow for expanded use. This is why the Kaufman Foundation was so interested in this project.”
Other contributors to the projects include $5,000 from Marquette General Hospital, $4,000 from Marquette Area Public Schools booster club, $3,000 from the Marquette County Community Foundation, $2,000 from Marquette Rotary West, $1,200 from Marquette Noon Kiwanis and a $500 donation from Dr. Dan Hardie.
Other contributions have been made by the Shiras Institute, the Reynolds Foundation and the Frazier Fund, as well as the $160,000 bridge loan from the City of Marquette.
“We’re very happy to see the support from the community,” said Kaufman, whose foundation supported Superiorland Soccer Association when it first began in Marquette with a $50,000 donation. At that time, Jim Grundstrom was actively raising money for the sport.
People wishing to donate to the project can do so by visiting www.superiorlandsoccer.com or by sending their contributions to: Superiorland Soccer, P.O. Box 417, Marquette, MI 49855.
—Sam Eggleston

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