The project is part of the $30 million Qatar Harvey Fund, which was established by the state of Qatar—an independent state in the southern Arabian Gulf—to provide funding for flood relief projects in Southeast Texas following Hurricane Harvey in August 2017. In addition to serving recreational purposes, the eight soccer fields will also serve as water collection basis to mitigate future flooding, according to a Harris County Precinct 4 news release.
“Qatar has relationships in Houston and Southeast Texas that go back decades, and the Qatar Harvey Fund is a gesture of solidarity designed to support long-term recovery and resilience,” said H.E. Sheikh Meshal bin Hamad Al-Thani, Qatar’s ambassador to the U.S., during the July 1 announcement. “These fields serve that purpose by using land vulnerable to flooding to bring recreation access closer to these communities.”
Five of the soccer fields will be constructed in Precinct 1’s Blue Ridge Park, located between Beltway 8 and FM 2234, while the other three soccer fields will be constructed in Precinct 4’s Alabonson Park, located along Bingle Road between Alabonson Road and White Oak Bayou, according to the news release.
Al-Thani made the announcement July 1 at the BBVA Stadium, alongside Harris County Judge Lina Hidalgo, Precinct 4 Commissioner Jack Cagle and Licia Green Ellis, the wife of Precinct 1 Commissioner Rodney Ellis.
“I’m extremely grateful that Qatar has been here for our city after we faced one of the greatest challenges in the wake of Hurricane Harvey,” Rodney Ellis said in a statement. “On behalf of Precinct 1, I sincerely thank Ambassador Al-Thani and the Qatar Harvey Fund for their generous gift that will provide soccer fields at Blue Ridge Park for our families to enjoy. Also, the flood mitigation component of this project will help thousands of people who live in the Sims Bayou watershed from future flooding.”
In addition to the three new soccer fields, other planned amenities at Alabonson Park include softball and football fields, parking lots, maintenance facilities, picnic areas, playgrounds, and paved multiuse trails and natural surface trails that could eventually connect to existing trail systems along White Oak Bayou, the release states. Construction is expected to begin in August.
“Thank you, Ambassador Al-Thani, for this generous donation,” Cagle said in a statement. “This important step in our recovery from Hurricane Harvey provides recreational opportunities and flood relief for the area.”
The Qatar Harvey Fund already announced $16 million worth of recovery projects in October 2018, which included a variety of education, housing and community development projects, including a $622,000 donation to the Boys & Girls Club of Texas and $2.5 million to restore Riverside Hospital in Houston’s Third Ward, according to the release.
Al-Thani is expected to announce the remaining $14 million worth of projects left in the Qatar Harvey Fund during his current visit. For more information about the Qatar Harvey Fund, click here.