PACE (Police Athletics for Community Engagement) says goodbye to bathtubs, and hello to indoor baths in the field. Baths, a first for the fields at 5035 S. 33rd St. , are the least attractive but may be more welcoming with upgraded amenities which include a concession building, new registration plates and berths.
“It’s exciting for kids and their families to have such a nice facility down there that goes along with the field,” said Richard Gonzalez, CEO of PACE. “Nobody in that 90-degree heat wants to use a porta potty.”
The bathrooms are in what the folks at PACE call a snack hut. Includes concession stand and storage space. The snack hut, sign boards, and sidewalks come with a $488,000 donation from Meatpacker JBS USA. Company and PACE officials officially celebrated the completion of the improvements Wednesday night as kids in the cleats took to the fields to practice.
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Noting that the field is just a block away from JBS’s beef production plant, PACE co-founder Tony Espejo said the organization is forever grateful for its partnership with its neighbor.
“Generations of southern Omahans have benefited from the packaging industry, and now JBS has provided future generations with a first-class facility in their own backyard,” Espejo said.
Karl Mayer, director of human resources at JBS Omaha, said the company is proud to partner with PACE to provide the improved facility for young athletes.
“We hope this state-of-the-art complex will serve our team members and neighbors for many years to come,” Meyer said.
Soccer mom Cassie Steinmark said it would make it more fun for players and parents. “I won’t have to use the Porta potty, which is disgusting,” her daughter who plays football, Tiana Steinmark, said in a 10-year-old talk.
PACE provides soccer, baseball, and other sports and entertainment for free to an increasing number of young people each year. Many of the other coaches and volunteers are officers from the Omaha Police Department and other local law enforcement agencies. Gonzalez said more than 2,500 children and teens have so far registered to play on the 80 to 85 PACE soccer teams this summer. Teams from other organizations, such as The Simple Foundation/OHA, are likely to push the number of youths playing in PACE football leagues to over 3,000.
Gonzalez said the improvements will not only make the experience more enjoyable and healthier for players and fans, but will also be a source of pride for them.
“It means a lot to be able to offer our children, our families, and the community something nice in your home area, and the amenities that others have,” Gonzalez said. “We appreciate JBS and all the sponsors and donors who have given these children extra things, be it equipment or a snack hut. This is what keeps us going and gives the kids positive opportunities.”