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Written by Janet Goodman, BT Contributor   
July 2018

Little Haiti Soccer Park has new amenities

IParkPatrol_1n the Little Haiti neighborhood of Miami, along NE 2nd Avenue between NE 62nd and NE 63rd streets, sits a multimillion-dollar, 21st-century sports complex. Considered by some to be the pride of the community, Little Haiti Soccer Park is a public green space that fills the needs of area youths.

A place for more than soccer, Little Haiti Soccer Park, also known as Emmanuel “Manno” Sanon Soccer Park in honor of the late Haitian national team player, is also home of the local community center, splash pad, playground, new outdoor exercise pavilion, and a multi-sport field currently under construction.

After years of city government planning and legal opposition from neighborhood businesses, the park opened in 2008. The 15-acre facility, downsized from the original 60-acre plan, cost $36.9 million. It features a natural-grass, competition-size soccer field with a covered home team grandstand and visiting team bleachers that can seat 1400 people. The supporting grandstand also houses a snack concession and bathrooms. A large parking lot accommodating games and practices is located along NE 62nd Street.

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West of the grandstand is a lively splash area with various fountains providing safe, zero-depth water fun for kids. It is completely fenced in, with benches and picnic tables provided for watchful parents. Right next door is a small, colorful playground with one slide and some climbing equipment, shaded by a stretched-canvas pavilion.

Located on the NE 2nd Avenue side of the park is a line of three picnic pavilions, each on a concrete pad with a table and a garbage can. Two additional picnic pavilions with barbecue grills are nearby, and there is no litter to spoil this eating area. The entire sports complex is neatly landscaped with native oak, gumbo limbo trees, coconut palms, and bursts of tall, seaside fescue grass around the splashpad.

On the site by the picnic area where a trailer park used to be (demolished in 2009), a 5000-square-foot, multi-use building was constructed. The Arthur E. Teele Jr. Community Center, named for the late City of Miami commissioner who pushed hard for the creation of the park project, has a large central room that can be rented for special events. There are also bathrooms, a computer lab, and City of Miami government offices for Little Haiti NET (Neighborhood Enhancement Team). An additional 50-space parking lot is conveniently located adjacent to the community center.

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In late 2012, Little Haiti Soccer Park was emblazoned with huge murals along the northern goal side of the soccer field. Pinnacle Housing Group, a Miami-based affordable-housing developer, teamed with a local non-profit, Moving the Lives of Kids Community Mural Project, a.k.a. MLK Mural, for the project. With many painters and graffiti artists onboard, they brought art in public places to Little Haiti. Still vibrant today, these colorful, fantastical scenes of life and dreams from around the world transform a long section of wall shared by neighboring warehouses.

Park improvements have continued. More recently, in 2015, an $800,000 locker-room building was constructed next to the covered grandstand, which allows home and visiting teams a place to change into uniforms. Currently under construction behind the visitor bleachers is a multi-use sports field, which had been an empty and unmarked soccer practice field.

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According to Stephanie Severino, deputy director of the Office of Communications for the City of Miami, this new sporting area has a synthetic surface, called FieldTurf, which is used by five Major League Soccer teams at their home stadiums, as well as ten MLS training complexes.

In an e-mail exchange with the BT, Severino explains that the field design includes field markers for soccer, American football, and for two U12 (i.e., a team for kids under age 12) soccer fields. New landscaping, paved roads, and concrete walkways around the field are being added.

This $1.8-million improvement project includes a prefabricated storage building for soccer equipment and a spacious exercise station next to the community center built on a concrete pad with a shade canopy. The BT counted nine brand-new Greenfields Outdoor Fitness Equipment health machines being unwrapped and installed during a visit to the park in early June.

ParkPatrol_5Keeping the soccer field regularly in use had been an issue in the past (see “Eight Months and Counting,” January 2009 and “Future Futbol,” September 2014). Astronomical rental fees were out of reach for most local clubs. Currently, the city has affordable fees, and rents the field to leagues before 6:00 p.m. without lights for $60 for the first two hours and $20 each additional hour. After 6:00 p.m., lights are needed, adding $5 to each additional hour of use.

The Little Haiti Optimist Club has used the field for American football games and practices, and Little Haiti FC, created in 2014, is now a regular renter of the field three days a week for practices. Severino points out that while the original soccer field undergoes new sodding, no teams have active permits.

Miami Edison Senior High School coach Gomez Laleau, one of the founders of Little Haiti FC, tells the BT he expects the grass surface to be ready again by mid-July. “We offer eight categories of soccer teams, ranging from U8 through U18, including a U16 girls team,” says Laleau. The non-profit organization relies on donations and grants and does not charge participants.

Little Haiti FC also provides tutoring and makes sure that their senior players go on to college every year on both athletic and academic scholarships. They also offer a recreational soccer program for kids who are less experienced at the sport. They are known to be the only travel youth soccer club in Florida that assists underserved inner-city youngsters and their families.

 

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Park_map

Little Haiti Soccer Park
6301 NE 2nd Ave.
Miami, FL 33138
305-960-2933


Park Rating

palm-1palm-1palm-1palm-1palm-0


Hours:
M-F 8 am to 9 pm;
weekends 8 am to 6 pm
Picnic Tables: Yes
Barbecues: Yes
Picnic pavilions: Yes
Tennis Courts: No
Athletic fields: Yes
Night lighting: Yes
Water Splash: Yes
Playground: Yes

 

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