What’s happening at McRae Park?

McRae Park midget football team, 1963 (Minneapolis Park and Recreation Board)BY ED FELIEN

According to the Minneapolis Park and Recreation Board, “The football/soccer field, four ball fields and two broomball rinks will be closed from July 1, 2015, through mid-summer 2016. This is to ensure the proper growth of the new natural turf field.”
The playing fields will be closed after July 1, but the McRae Park and Recreation Center will be open.  The Driving Range at Hiawatha Golf Course is open, and there are possible plans to open nine holes for play later this summer. Bossen Field is being redesigned.
Is the park board closing all the parks while they rethink the notion of recreation?
We wrote to Steffanie Musich, Meg Forney and Annie Young, commissioners of the park board, and asked them, “Are we moving from baseball and football to soccer?  Where are the kids supposed to play in the meantime?”  Repeated efforts to reach Musich were unsuccessful.
The park board has establish- ed Community Advisory Committees to develop a South Minneapolis Master Plan for parks in the area from downtown to Richfield, from 35W over to the River.  The park board appointed some of the members.  The City Council appointed some of the members, and local neighborhood associations appointed members.  All CAC meetings are open to the public and each meeting will have a public comment period at the end of the meeting. The next meeting is Tuesday, April 21, from   5:30 to 7 p.m. at Crosstown Covenant Church, 5540 30th Ave. S.  The final public meeting will be Thursday, April 30, from 6 to 8 p.m. at Longfellow Recreation Center, 3435 36th Ave. S.
The Nokomis East Neighbor-hood Association (NENA) has been very concerned about plans for Bossen Field.  From its website: [NENA] “appointed Maribel Osorio and Greg Fedio to the CAC. Their responsibilities include learning about the project, giving input on future design and park usage throughout the planning process, contributing to broad community engagement efforts, and making recommendations to the MPRB commissioners.  NENA’s community organizer Maria Alcaraz has been talking to people in the Bossen area to gather feedback on the project and identify neighborhood issues. Special efforts have been made to reach Latino and Somali community members to ensure their voices are heard in the process.”
In the light of recent publicity about lawsuits by former NFL players regarding head injuries, it seems likely that the park board may move to de-emphasize football in favor of team sports that seem less dangerous.  Young boys have a 75% chance for concussions playing football.  The impact speed of a professional boxer’s punch is 20 mph.  The impact speed of a football player tackling a stationary player is 25 mph.   The number of head injuries treated in U.S. hospital emergency rooms in 2009 for football was 46,948.  Among children 14 and younger that amounted to 21,878 hospital-treated injuries from football.
In an interview with David Remnick from The New Yorker (and a former sportswriter for The Washington Post) President Obama said that while the risks were understood, if he had a son, he would not allow him to play professional football.  “I would not let my son play pro football,” he said.

One Comment:

  1. McRae Park and McRae Recreation Center are currently open and will remain open for the summer. The fields will be closed but there will be plenty to do in the park! Also, the Hiawatha Driving range is open and we are working on opening nine holes for the summer.

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