CAMDEN, NJ — Residents will soon have state-of-the-art spots to start pick-up soccer games or kick a ball around in North Camden.
Two mini-pitches are set to be installed at Northgate Park, thanks to the city's selection in a grant program from the U.S. Soccer Foundation and funding partner Target Corporation.
Two years ago, Target pledged $6 million to bring 100 courts to communities across the country by 2020, supporting the foundation's larger "Safe Places to Play" program.
As part of the initiative, the U.S. Soccer Foundation looks to transform abandoned courts, unused hard-top surfaces, and vacant lots within underserved areas into new spaces for local children. More than 160 soccer courts have been installed since the launch of the program in 2015, according to the foundation website.
The foundation will award the grant of up to $120,000 to Camden in the form of the acrylic playing surfaces and accompanying goal nets. Abacus Sports Installations, a company based out of Lancaster, Pennsylvania, serves as the contractor for the project. There is no financial commitment required from Camden.
City officials say the hope is for the project to be completed by the beginning of the school year.
Initially, one mini-pitch at a $60,000 award had been eyed for Cornelius Martin Park along the Cooper River, as reflected in the language of a June 11 resolution adopted by the city council.
But the move was made a few blocks west, with a second mini-pitch added, because of a better fit for the project, said business administrator Jason Asuncion after Tuesday night's council caucus meeting. This change was acknowledged last month through another resolution.
Officials did not provide an exact start date for construction at the site.
Per the terms of the grant agreement with the city, the foundation will hold its afterschool Soccer for Success program on the mini-pitches for at least 24 weeks each year and three days a week, split evenly in fall and spring sessions.