OAKLAND, Calif. (KGO) — Oakland parents and their young athletes want to know what happened to hundreds of thousands of dollars donated for new artificial turf on a popular sports field. It should have been installed eight years ago.

The concept was to install synthetic turf on a baseball and football field, so that children could use it all year round, even during the rainy months. But the politicians did not keep their promises.

These young football players and cheerleaders are preparing for the playoffs, without focusing on the story of where they train. Curt Flood Field is named after the Oakland native son, who Sports Illustrated called “baseball’s greatest center back” in 1968. But his greatest accomplishment? Fighting the reserve clause that allowed teams to decide a player’s future, even after their contract expired.

Curt Flood told ABC7’s Martin Wyatt in April 1991, “No one, with rare exceptions, had challenged his right to own me.”

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Flood’s battle took him to the United States Supreme Court and ultimately led to higher salaries for professional athletes in all sports. But the field that honors him needs work.

The mother of a young player, Nicole Steele, told the I-Team: “We have potholes here, what I call ‘ankle killers’. So yeah, we need some potholes. a 100% safe environment for our boys.”

There are potholes, ruts and bare spots. It wasn’t supposed to be like this. Eight years ago, the city held a splashy ceremony at Curt Flood Field with a big check from the Oakland Raiders, $200,000 to replace the grass with new synthetic turf. Flood’s daughter was present.

Shelly Flood told I-Team’s Dan Noyes: “It was actually exciting, Dan. They had plans there for the pitch, what it was going to be like. It was momentum and the launch of this project.”

Then-mayor Jean Quan told ABC7 about the benefits of installing artificial turf there: “We have a very small parks and recreation maintenance team. We rely heavily on volunteers, so the artificial turf here will take some pressure off.”

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The Oakland Parks and Recreation Department predicted that the artificial turf would allow the field to remain open during the rainy months and serve an additional 2,500 young people.

But eight years later, the grass remains.

Dan Noies: “What do you think, Shelly?” »

Shelly Flood: “It’s appalling. It’s disappointing. I’m sure the Oakland community feels a bit betrayed.”

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Walte Ore is president of the Oakland Dynamites organization whose teams practice there.

He said, “What the city did with that ceremony and that empty promise was like a slap in the face.”

Even after this ceremony, the city continued to fundraise for artificial turf at Curt Flood Field.

In 2015, they held a groundbreaking ceremony for what had become a $7.1 million project to upgrade the grass court, new basketball courts and field lights — current Mayor Libby Schaaf touting “a safer environment for our local youth — no more tripping over holes in the grass.”

In 2016, the Mercury News reported that artificial turf would be installed that summer. It still hasn’t happened.

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“Where did the money go? That’s also what I want to know, because it didn’t reach us, it didn’t reach our children. And we were promised something that, you know, doesn’t come through. is ever realized,” Ore said.

The I-Team researched where the money went for a few weeks, and none of the major players cooperated with an interview – not former mayor Jean Quan, not current mayor Libby Schaaf, not anyone from the Raiders organization.

We also tracked a clue from that big check.

The Raiders donated the $200,000 for the synthetic turf through LISC, the nonprofit Local Initiatives Support Corporation. They told ABC7 they agreed to match turf funds with the Oakland Parks and Recreation Department. But, “In 2016, for reasons we weren’t part of, the city moved local matching funding for the Curt Flood land to another recreation center. As a result, we weren’t able to go from there. forward with our grant for this project.”

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Where did Oakland Parks and Rec send the money? The I-Team repeatedly called and emailed the manager, Dana Riley, but never heard back. Dan Noyes even stopped by his office in Frank Ogawa Plaza. The secretary told us that Riley was working from home and confirmed that she was getting my messages.

In the end, the politicians got a photo op with a big check – which turned out to be worth nothing.

“We have to figure out where the funds went because if it’s for the kids, it has to go for the kids,” said player mother Sherry Heard.

Dan Noyes told Oakland Dynamites athletic director Jeff Cotton, “It’s just a bit of a shame.”

He replied, “It’s a bad deal for these kids. I mean, it’s been eight years in a row. It should have been done at least seven years ago.”

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And the outlook is not promising. Team I checked Oakland’s current list of unfunded capital improvement projects through next year, and Curt Flood Field ranks 203rd in importance. The Parks Foundation emailed later that day saying the fundraiser for Curt Flood Field had failed, so they had to cut plans. Here is their full statement:

“The Oakland Parks and Recreation Foundation (formerly Friends of Oakland Parks) partners with local communities and neighbors, civic and cultural leaders, donors and the City of Oakland to support city parks and expand opportunities recreation throughout the city.

OPRF has partnered with the City of Oakland to advance plans to renovate Curt Flood Field since 2013. OPRF’s role has been to serve as fiscal agent and fundraising support, with the city directing decision making. Despite efforts over several years to raise public and private funds to support the entire renovation plan, the shortfall persisted. The original renovation plan became unworkable, and the City developed a more modest renovation plan to bring the hallways and bathrooms into ADA compliance, as well as an electrical system upgrade for the entire building. installation and new lighting. »

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