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Suh's donation helps Grant HS tackle field of dreams

by: TRIBUNE PHOTO: CHRISTOPHER ONSTOTT - Portland Parks & Recreation, NFL Star Ndamukong Suh, Friends of Grant, Portland Public Schools and Grant High School Announce the creation of a new turf field and track at Grant High School Thursday, May 2.

The Grant High School community found out Thursday that it will finally get a field of dreams.

Detroit Lions defensive tackle Ndamukong Suh, a 2005 Grant High graduate, visited his alma mater to announce his donation of $250,000 to the long-time Grant Field and Track project — the effort to install a new turf athletic field and synthetic track at the school.

"This is an opportunity for me to help our sports programs compete at a true home field,” Suh said. “It’s something we have all wanted for a very long time."

Grant students have never had a turf athletic playing surface. Their soccer team plays across the river at Lincoln High School, and the Grant track was closed for school competitions last year after being deemed unsafe for competitive use.

Construction on the new track and field will begin soon; the goal is to have it complete before football season this fall.

Suh’s donation is the capstone of an effort that began 12 years ago by the nonprofit Friends of Grant Athletics. The group has worked with Nike, the City of Portland and Portland Public Schools to garner donations.

Nike donated $350,000; Portland Public Schools donated $391,000; and Portland Parks & Recreation donated a total of $452,000 ($400,000 from system development charges) and $52,000 from the bureau's Sports Working Group Funds. Sports Working Group Funds are sports user fees and private donations to the parks bureau earmarked for sports.

System development charge revenue includes fees from new development, and may only be used for park expansion, expanded capacity or improvements on parks bureau property. SDCs are not part of the general fund and can't be used for maintaining existing park facilities.

"We would not be breaking ground on this new field and track without the many years of hard work by the Grant community,” said City Commissioner Nick Fish, who oversees the parks bureau, on Thursday. “This project is an example of how we all benefit when private and public partners come together around a shared goal."

The Grant Field and Track project is part of a larger community effort called Places for Sport, which began 10 years ago.

The city, Nike, PPS, and community volunteers have teamed up to build year-round turf fields at Benson, Roosevelt, Lincoln, Cleveland and now Grant.

Fish said Grant’s project could not have been completed without the last two critical pieces.

"Two powerhouses helped close the final gap in funding this project, Nike and Ndamukong Suh,” he said. “Ndamukong began his path to the NFL on this field and now he has helped ensure that other Grant athletes have the one of the best facilities in our city."