Flag football league gives old Youngstown field new life - WFMJ.com News weather sports for Youngstown-Warren Ohio

Flag football league gives old Youngstown field new life

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YOUNGSTOWN, Ohio -

A lot of the athletic fields and parks in Youngstown were built in a different era and several of them sit empty most of the time. That's changing for one of them.

For the first time in years, Oakland Field on Youngstown's east side is buzzing with activity again.

"Everybody coming through is slowing down, gawking, looking out the windows, trying to figure out what the heck is going on," said Chris Manion, the president of the Steel Valley Flag Football Association.

What's happening is a transformation. The Steel Valley Flag Football Association signed a 99-year lease for the park, paying one dollar per year. A couple weeks ago, the league started the process of taking an old baseball diamond and creating new flag football fields.

"We tore out roughly 400 feet of eight foot tall fence," said Manion. "Took us about eight hours to take all the poles out of the ground, take all the fencing, wrap it up, and start filling all the holes."

The field fills a need for the league but also gives the city a chance to take a piece of land no one was using anymore and give it a purpose again.

"We did a study back in 2013 and there were no people going to Oakland Field," said Robert Burke, Youngstown's Park and Recreation director. "They were built when we had 150,000 people and now we have 66,000. So honestly there are some park properties we do not need."

So with this agreement, the city doesn't have to worry about cutting the grass anymore and a local league can stop bouncing around and put down some roots.

"We've been all over the place. We started out in Deemer over in Warren. We've been on South field house. We've been all over the place, so it's nice to have a home," said Randy Burns, a player and board member for the league.

The ultimate goal is to get this place up and running then add lights, bringing back the old 'glory days' feel for a lot of these guys and making this a truly unique spot in the Valley.

"We get a lot of comments: 'Are you guys going to put lights in? When are you guys going to put lights in? We want to play night games.' Eventually it's going to happen. We're going to have lights," said Manion. 

"To have a complex like that, I think for the east side and for the city as a whole to call their own I think is a great benefit," said Burke.

A new life for an old field and a vision that could have a big impact down the road.

To check out the progress or learn more about the league, you can find the Steel Valley Flag Football Association on Facebook.

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