An outdoor basketball court has been a long-awaited hope for a group of at least 40 young athletes in West Dallas.
This week, their dreams came true. City officials held a ribbon-cutting ceremony Wednesday afternoon to welcome a new, bright-blue court outside the Nash-Davis Recreation Center.
The Final Four Legacy Court is part of the NCAA’s Legacy Project initiative — funding granted to the tournament’s host cities each year. The women’s basketball tournament is taking place in Dallas this year, and the men’s is in Houston.
The new court is already being used by many aspiring basketball players, said Omar Narvaez, Dallas’ deputy mayor pro tem. On opening day, 50 to 70 people showed up to the court to hang out, play basketball and run through drills, he said.
“It brings me complete joy to know that we were able to do something that young people asked for,” said Narvaez, who helped bring the project to life.
The concept of bringing a new outdoor court into the community — near L.G. Pinkston High School and C.F. Carr Elementary School — has been in the works for a while, he added.
More than three years ago, a group of around 40 kids made their pitches to the city for why they deserved a basketball court, Narvaez said. Later, when officials got word of Dallas hosting the 2023 Women’s Final Four, the city applied for the NCAA grant to help make the vision a reality.
Using some of these funds, Dallas’ Parks and Recreation department began building the court in early March. In less than a month, it was complete — a record amount of time for the department, Narvaez added.
“We had grown men here that were 40, 50 years old that had tears in their eyes because they always dreamed of a basketball court but never thought it would happen,” he said.
An outdoor basketball court also provides people with accessibility that an indoor one doesn’t. The court is open every day, Narvaez said. Public parks in Dallas are open from 5 a.m. to 11 p.m.
Moreover, the court stands out for its weatherproof electric-blue tiling, making it especially suitable for weather conditions in Dallas, said NCAA President Charlie Baker, who toured the park’s facilities Friday.
“I’ve never seen that kind of a court before with that kind of a surface on it,” Baker said. “It’s actually, I think, perfect for an area like this.”
This court also represents clear effort from Dallas to enhance its parks’ infrastructure and recreational opportunities, he said.
For the West Dallas community, the addition is also somewhat a public safety measure, and one that doesn’t involve more police presence, Narvaez said. Over the last few years, Mattie Nash-Myrtle Davis Park, once “riddled with crime,” has seen new amenities, including a splash park and all-abilities swings.
“This community wanted their park back, and we fought valiantly together,” he said.
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