It was all smiles, music and jumping around as city officials, developers and kids celebrated the opening of 10 acres of soccer fields at Granite Park in east-central Fresno on Saturday.
Boston Red Sox coach and Fresno native Tom Goodwin helped kick off the opening as he spoke about how while growing up in west Fresno, parks helped him get to where he is today.
Goodwin, who graduated from Central High School and is a Fresno State alumni, attributed being drafted by the Dodgers and his athletic career to parks. He urged parents to bring their kids to parks for a few hours a week and watch them play.
“It’s very important they come out of the house, they get off ‘Fortnite,’ and they get off all these other games they’re playing and be a kid for a while,” he said. “I know sometimes you don’t have time, but it’s really important.”
Several youth soccer teams were in attendance for the opening ceremony at the 20-acre park, as well as Fresno City Councilmember Paul Caprioglio and President Esmeralda Soria. The opening ceremony festivities will continue into Sunday.
The relationship between the city and the park’s developers has been contentious. The new soccer fields were not part of the 2-year plan that developers Terance Frazier and TJ Cox initially agreed to with the city three years ago. It included basketball and volleyball fields, a running trail and a restaurant that fell through.
Cox was not at Saturday’s event, but Frazier was presented with a recognition certificate on behalf of the Fresno City Council. Caprioglio thanked him for turning a “lump of coal” back into somewhere families can now make into memories.
Admission into the two-day opening celebration is free, and 20 bounce houses are set up on the field for kids to play in. The celebration will run from 9 a.m to 5 p.m. both Saturday and Sunday.