Representatives from the City of San Antonio and the San Antonio Spurs teamed up Friday at Woodard Park on the East Side to announce a $1 million investment in the city’s parks over the next four years. The Spurs’ organization’s nonprofit arm, formerly known as Silver and Black Give Back, unveiled its new name – Spurs Give – and a $500,000 contribution that was matched by the City, said Spurs Sports and Entertainment (SS&E) spokeswoman Deliah Mathieu.

Spurs Give and the City have not yet finalized exactly what improvements to conduct across the city parks and hope to continue bringing on partners to bolster the effort, Spurs Give executive director Jennifer Regnier said. But in the first year of park improvements, the plan is to renovate the basketball court at Woodard Park, she said. They hope to invest in at least one park per City Council district in the first year.

“This is a four-year partnership where we will go in and give back to that community,” Regnier said. “Every district had a different need for that community, so we’ll listen.”

The idea to invest in city parks came from Spurs player LaMarcus Aldridge, who contributed $100,000 of his own money to the effort. Aldridge surprised Spurs Give with his donation right before Friday’s announcement, said Tom James, vice president of communications for SS&E.

Aldridge approached the Spurs’ nonprofit arm in September to share how growing up with a basketball court nearby had impacted his life, Spurs Give executive director Jennifer Regnier said.

“From that conversation came this bigger project,” Regnier said.

A Dallas native, Aldridge recalled going to the park near his home with his brother and cousins to play basketball. It was key to have a safe environment to play, he said.

“This is something that was close to me and my heart,” Aldridge said. “I wanted to join in. I feel like it’s a big thing they’re doing and I look forward to it.”

Every family and neighborhood deserves a world-class park, Mayor Ron Nirenberg said at Friday’s announcement.

“We know that we need to build spaces where people can convene for recreation and gathering to build community,” Nirenberg said. “One of the ways we build a healthy community is to make sure we have the infrastructure to support it. … When we allow for people in our community to access parks, it helps increase healthy living in the city.”

Spurs Give puts much of its energy and funding into youth sports and youth-led service programs. The foundation operates programs such as the Spurs Youth Basketball League, which was originally created to encourage economically disadvantaged youth to play recreational basketball. SS&E Chairman Peter J. Holt said the nonprofit’s new name was more “action-oriented” to reflect the foundation’s goal to impact the community. The $1 million parks investment was the perfect way to kick off the new name and show the Spurs’ commitment to giving back to the community, he added.

“Our core values are what drive every piece of the organization,” he said. “It comes from the leadership of [Coach Gregg Popovich], of [SS&E CEO R.C. Buford], and all the players we have going back historically and actually living our values.”

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Jackie Wang

Jackie Wang is the local government reporter at the San Antonio Report.