New England Patriots owner and prominent Jewish philanthropist Robert Kraft has donated $6 million for the construction of a new, multi-purpose sports facility in Jerusalem, the city’s municipality announced in a statement Tuesday.
The donation, designed to beef up sports in the Israeli capital, was pledged as part of the celebrations marking the 50th anniversary of the reunification of Jerusalem and the 20th anniversary of Maccabiah Games, which will be hosted in the city next year.
The Kraft Family Sports Campus is being built in the Arazim Valley on the Western outskirts of Jerusalem, and is scheduled to open in the summer of 2017.
“The Kraft Family Sports Campus is a central part of my vision for Jerusalem as an international capital of sport and athleticism,” Mayor Nir Barkat said. “My dear friend, Robert Kraft, has been an unwavering partner in the growth and development of Jerusalem.”
The state-of-the-art facility will include soccer fields, a dual-use US regulation football and soccer field, locker rooms and administrative offices and pedestrian walkways. The statement from Barkat’s office said plans to add additional athletic facilities to the complex were “in the pipeline.”
“The Kraft Family Sports Campus allows me to invest in two things that I have always been very passionate about: My love of Israel and my support for youth athletics and team sports, especially American football,” Robert Kraft said.
“I have seen the positive impact team sports can have, not just on the individuals who participate, but in the communities that support them. They help unify those who might otherwise be divided by cultural differences.”
The sports complex is being built in collaboration with the Jerusalem Foundation and the Jerusalem Development Company.
Over decades, Kraft has given more than $100 million to numerous institutions and organizations, many of them Jewish or Israeli.
One of his most distinctive philanthropic interests is the support of sports, particularly American football, in Israel. The artificial-turf athletic field near the main entrance to Jerusalem, the Kraft Family Stadium, is a Kraft gift that’s used for soccer, baseball and American football games.