Joy of the People, formerly known as the Saint Paul Futbol Club, has contracted with the city of St. Paul to lease the South St. Anthony Recreation Center at 890 Cromwell Ave. The organization provides soccer skills training and free-play opportunities for youth and adults.
The South St. Anthony Rec Center is one of five centers that St. Paul’s Division of Parks and Recreation (DPR) proposed for partnering with other nonprofits. Faced with a 14 percent budget cut in 2010, DPR made plans to close three rec centers.
Partnering is an alternative to closing a center. In this arrangement, the partner takes over day-to-day operations and pays for utilities and building maintenance. The city continues to pay for outdoor maintenance.
Joy of the People was started by Ted Kroeten, formerly the director of coaching and player development for the St. Paul Blackhawks Soccer Club.
Along with several of his soccer-playing friends, Kroeten wanted to create an environment in which kids could learn to play soccer without extensive travel and with more time for learning and playing with friends.
Kroeten said that Joy of the People tries to take the focus off competition and redirect it to skills development and love of the game. The organization provides space for pick-up soccer games and free play, which Kroeten said “facilitate the personal and social building blocks that help grow the love of the game and health for life.”
Kroeten said Joy of the People’s soccer programming will make use of the rec center facilities most days. They will make the fields available for community use during some summer and fall evenings and the gym on most winter evenings.
The St. Anthony Park Community Council will continue to rent office space in the building, and the meeting room will be available for neighborhood use.
“We want the community to keep using the facility,” Kroeten said.
He added that regular hours will be established in early December and posted outside the building.