Under a large tent that kept guests at George Washington Carver High relatively cool on a scorching September day, New Orleans Saints Owner Tom Benson drew cheers from a large crowd when he discussed the impact of the school's soon-to-be-built football field.
"We do everything we can to help as an organization, especially with playgrounds, because it's so important that our young people become Super Bowl stars someday," Benson said, alluding both to the Saints' Super Bowl XLIV title and the Ravens-49ers Super Bowl that took place in the Crescent City this year. "We work together with the community all the time to do things like this."
Benson and granddaughter Rita Benson LeBlanc, the team's owner/vice chairman of the board, were guests of honor and spoke at Thursday's groundbreaking ceremony at Carver High, which is located in the Ninth Ward. The event celebrated the upcoming construction of the "Ninth Ward Field of Dreams," which will be comprised of a community football field, Olympic-sized running track and 1,000-seat facility.
"This remarkable facility will serve as a place to foster and nurture the dreams of an entire community," said LeBlanc, who noted that the actual turf field from Super Bowl XLVII was relocated to New Orleans' Harrell Stadium this year for youth athletes to use. "It's always been very important to our family, and the entire New Orleans Saints organization, to provide our youth with an opportunity to participate in football, while offering the ability to play other sports as well.
"Clearly, the (Super Bowl) being played here again brought attention to New Orleans. The ongoing impact of having an NFL team in New Orleans is part of our engagement in the community that we are most proud of. We are happy to see our designated NFL funds used to partner with local organizations to make a difference in our community. We are proud to support this project, which will continue the resurgence of the Upper Ninth Ward, while providing yet another world-class field."
The new stadium, which is located adjacent to the Carver High campus on Higgins Boulevard, will be open to all area high schools, middle schools and community members.