Extreme Makeover: Raiders Edition for East Bay Park

By Joe Kukura
|  Thursday, May 20, 2010  |  Updated 2:15 PM PDT
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The Raiders are refurbishing Sobrante Park in East Oakland.

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Give Al Davis and the Oakland Raiders credit. There are worse things to do with the money they just saved by cutting JaMarcus than paying out of their own pockets to renovate and beautify the local parks near their stadium.

But renovating a park near their stadium is what they're doing, as Raiders.com announced the organization has just handed a $200,000 grant to the Friends of Oakland Parks and Recreation. The funds will be used to refurbish Sobrante Park in East Oakland with a synthetic turf field, a drainage system and physical education facilities for two nearby schools.

Sobrante Park, located about two miles south of the Oakland Coliseum, has ... umm, a bit of a checkered past.

Initially built as a "whites only" area during World War II, the park turned into a well-trafficked drug trade hotbed in the 1980s.  It's Urban Dictionary entry is less-than flattering.

But credit the Raiders organization for not only spending community development dollars, but targeting the areas that could use these dollars most. They'll provide a big upgrade for a neighborhood park and two local schools, Sobrante Elementary and James Madison Middle School, who will use it as a physical education facility.

"This is a win for Oakland’s youth," Oakland City Council President Jane Brunner told Raiders.com. "We are very grateful to the Raiders for their generous support of our recreational facilities."

The City of Oakland and the Oakland Unified School District also matched the Raiders' donation.

Joe Kukura is a freelance writer who has decided to not complain about Mayor Ron Dellums for about the next day or two.

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