With Minnesota United mascot PK the loon cheering them on, employees of the professional football franchise and the Toro Company Foundation rolled out sod Thursday at the Arlington Hills Community Center on Payne Avenue.
St. Paul Mayor Melvin Carter and new Director of Parks and Recreation Andy Rodriguez joined representatives from both organizations for the unveiling of a long-awaited upgrade to the community center’s outdoor grounds. The two groups have helped fund the installation of an irrigated natural grass football pitch, which is expected to be the first natural grass pitch for recreation centers on the city’s East Side.
The previous playing surface was uneven and unfinished, Rodriguez said, limiting play and events.
The funding included $30,000 from the two companies, $15,000 from the city’s STAR grant funds, and approximately $25,000 in labor and services from Parks and Rec.
“I think this is the start of a great partnership,” Rodriguez said. “The sports teams are really mobilizing. It is possible to do something every year. It has been alluded to, but the conversations are continuing. I talk to (Minnesota) United all the time now. They are in our garden.
The St. Paul Saints will begin renovations to the North Dale Rec Center baseball field on St. Albans Street next week. The Saints will bring their mascot and oversee drop-in music and announcements for a handful of recreation center team games to that location on June 11.