School scores big with NFL pledge Patterson High field will get funds for face-lift

"For us, this is a very big deal. It will certainly give us at least a reasonable facility." Roger Wrenn,Patterson High's head football coach

November 10, 1998|By Amy Oakes | Amy Oakes,SUN STAFF

An article in Tuesday's Maryland section implied that Patterson High School controls the Utz Twardowicz Field at Patterson Park, where the school plays some sports. The field, which has received a $100,000 improvement grant from the National Football League, belongs to Baltimore's Department of Recreation and Parks. It is used by Patterson High and several other schools.

The Sun regrets the error.

The Patterson High School football team has endured its disadvantaged home field long enough.

The East Baltimore high school's athletic complex at Patterson Park, Utz Twardowicz Field, lacks many of the necessities, such as a working scoreboard, to be eligible to play host to state playoff games. The bleachers are in such poor shape that fans from a visiting team this year jokingly offered to take up a collection for repairs.

Now, with a $100,000 grant from the National Football League, the field will get a major makeover as early as this winter. Though the facility still might not be in the same class with some in Baltimore County, Roger Wrenn, Patterson High's head football coach, said it will be the best home field he's had in his 25 years of coaching.


"For us, this is a very big deal," Wrenn said. "It will certainly give us at least a reasonable facility."

Mary Roby, a member of Friends of Patterson Park, the group which applied for the grant in July, said the field will be regraded, bleachers will be built, and the broken scoreboard and lighting will be replaced. The fenced-in facility will be used for a variety of sports, including football, lacrosse and soccer.

Baltimore was one of 15 cities, including Boston, Pittsburgh and Cleveland, to receive a grant from the NFL's youth football development program for 1998.

While NFL teams contribute to local economies, they make millions from fans in ticket costs and paraphernalia, so the program could be viewed as an attempt to give something back.

"This is part of one of our community relations initiatives," said Stefanie Paul, a Baltimore Ravens spokeswoman.

The $1.2 million program provides nonprofit, neighborhood-based organizations the financing to improve the quality, safety and accessibility of local football fields and parks in NFL markets.

"We tried to identify parks that could serve as a recreational hub for the community," said Chris Widmaier, the NFL's director of corporate communications.

About 36 applications were sent in, said Matthew Wexler, program officer for Local Initiatives Support Corp., the New York company facilitating the grants. Three Baltimore organizations applied, Wexler said.

Representatives from LISC met with community leaders in August and were impressed with the field's potential to bring Patterson Park-area neighborhoods together, Wexler said.

Paul said that, while the NFL is funding the field's renovations, it will be a community facility. "We'll help them have an opening and break ground, but it's definitely a youth field."

The Department of Recreation and Parks has given $30,000 for the project, which will mostly be used for maintenance, Roby said.

Pub Date: 11/10/98

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