Members of the east branch of the Arlington Boys & Girls Clubs will soon have the chance to live out their Final Four hoops fantasies with a brand new outdoor sports court coming just in time for college basketball’s biggest weekend at AT&T Stadium.The NCAA, Nancy Lieberman Foundation and WorldVentures Foundation are providing funding to build a “DreamCourt,” a 35-by-60-foot open area behind the facility for kids to play any sport they like.John Rosales, program manager at the east branch, said that the biggest draw for the court is basketball since it’s one of the kids’ favorite sports, but that they are looking at it as a place to play almost anything they like.The court will be decorated in bright orange and blue with a specialized safety surface, reducing shock and delivering better traction and ball response, according to the website for Sport Court, the manufacturer.Kids at the east branch are excited to see the court coming and already itching to get outside even in the cold and wet weather, Rosales said.Twelve-year-old Aaron, a member of the club, said he is most excited to get outside and have a space for he and his friends to do anything they wanted.“We still have the indoor gym, but we can go out and play the stuff we want to,” he said. “I’m happy we get to play on it, just very happy.”Rosales said he and other staff members see the court as a way to involve the community and further the club’s mission.“We don’t just want to be a place where people are dropping their kids off,” Rosales said. “We want to get the community involved, so we look at it as an opportunity to draw people out.”Rosales said the club plans to use the space for sports tournaments, family cookouts or barbecues in the summer, or a carnival.“The space is more than just a basketball court for us,” he said.Funding for the court comes from the Lieberman Foundation and WorldVentures Foundation, which will donate $25,000 toward the project, and a small donation from the NCAA as well.Rosales said he thinks the foundations were impressed with the east branch’s program and involvement with the kids, and through previous work with the WorldVentures Foundation on remodeling the facility’s bathrooms and indoor court.He said the staff found out at the same time they were presented with a check for remodeling.“It was hard to hold it back [from the kids] so we let them know soon after we found out,” Rosales said. “Especially for the teenagers I work with, they spend a lot of time in the indoor court, so they were really excited to be able to get outside.”Deputy City Manager Theron Bowman, a member of the board of directors for the club, said the court would have a great impact on the club and is an excellent reward for its vision, leadership and service efforts.Construction is expected to start in February in order to be completed for an April 1 ribbon-cutting before Final Four weekend.
Taylor Prater, 817-390-7964 Twitter: @taylornprater