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SOUTH LOS ANGELES : NFL Youth Center Work Under Way

March 21, 1993|ELSTON CARR

Making good on a promise to take a more active role in addressing social issues in urban areas, the National Football League has started extensive renovations of a commercial site for the NFL/Youth Education Town scheduled to open in June.

The NFL facility, in the Gateway Plaza at Rosecrans and Central avenues in Compton, will include game rooms, a weight room and showers. A 10,000-square-foot Astroturf playing field will be installed next door. The center will be managed by the Watts/Willowbrook Boys and Girls Club.

"This is going where no other sports league has gone before," said Reggie Williams, director of community affairs for the NFL.

"This is a commitment to provide a positive location for kids to go after school and on the weekend."

Roy W. Roberts, executive director of the boys and girls club, said the facility will also develop health education, mentor and after-school tutoring programs for about 700 youngsters from South Los Angeles, Watts, Willowbrook, Compton and Lynwood.

The center will include a retail outlet selling NFL products, a computer center and a library sponsored by Sports Illustrated. Part of the center will be used for a job-training program, Williams said.

The renovation and operation of the facility are funded by a $1-million donation from singer Garth Brooks, $1 million from the NFL and a $500,000 grant from the United Way of Greater Los Angeles.

Roberts said the center will not be a panacea for the problems affecting the area, but he hopes it will help put youngsters on a positive course.

"I'm not a person that believes in a cure-all," Roberts said. "But we can bring information that will help kids make better choices in life and feel more prepared to deal with educational and health (issues) as adults."

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