Harrison Park Community Gets New Athletic Field
The Chicago Park District, Chicago Cubs, Pritzker Traubert Family Foundation, 25th Ward Alderman Daniel Solis, Cristo Rey Jesuit High School and members of the community celebrated the opening of a new state-of-the-art, all-weather athletic turf field at Harrison Park, 1824 S. Wood St., in the Pilsen community today. Harrison Park field is unique because it is the first field to be fitted to host Little League baseball and softball in addition to soccer, flag football and Lacrosse.
The new artificial turf soccer field is part of the Take the Field initiative, which combines public and private resources to build 11 artificial turf athletic fields throughout the City of Chicago.
“The Take the Field investments are the perfect complement to the investments we are making as a City including expanding after school initiatives to 13,000 children – giving our kids a chance to develop academically, athletically and artistically,” said Mayor Emanuel. “I am grateful for all these investments in our neighborhoods so our kids have a brighter future where they can work together, play together, learn together and grow together.”
Michael P. Kelly, General Superintendent and CEO of the Chicago Park District, welcomed members of a consortium of public-private donors who brought this field to the community. “I’d like to thank the Chicago Cubs, the Pritzker Traubert Family Foundation, Alderman Danny Solis and Cristo Rey Jesuit High School for creating what will be an exceptional facility for this community. The Chicago Park District puts children first, and this field will change lives.”
“My wife Penny Pritzker and I started the Take the Field initiative last year to attract private dollars to invest in the future health outcomes of our city’s youth through constructing state-of-the-art artificial turf fields in neighborhood parks in need,” said Dr. Bryan Traubert, President, Pritzker Traubert Family Foundation and President, Board of Commissioners, Chicago Park District. “We are thrilled that the fields built last summer are in high demand by the community, and we are thankful for the partnership of the Chicago Park District, the Chicago Cubs and Cristo Rey Jesuit High School.”
“We are proud to support the Pilsen community, which is full of die-hard Cubs fans who have supported the Cubs for generations,” said Cubs Chairman Tom Ricketts. “Now, the teams and children in Pilsen will have an opportunity to bring their team to victory on a first-class playing field.”
Cristo Rey Jesuit High School advocated to include Harrison Park in the “Take the Field” initiative and is a lead contributor to the project. According to Antonio Ortiz, President of Cristo Rey Jesuit High School, “Pilsen and Little Village are densely populated communities with very limited green space. Because of this, we need to make better use of what we have. By upgrading the existing field and increasing its usage, everyone in the community benefits.”
In addition to the local community sports leagues, Cristo Rey Jesuit High School will be using the field for practice and as its “home field” for high school soccer and softball games. The all-weather field and additional lighting will provide expanded use for 9 months of the year and increase the hours the field can be used each day. While Cristo Rey Jesuit High School will receive some scheduling preference for its activities, the Park District will continue to manage community use of the field.
Harrison Park is the penultimate field to open as part of the Take the Field initiative, which will result in the construction of 11 public artificial turf athletic fields located in underserved and geographically diverse Chicago parks. Supported through private and foundation funds, the goal of the initiative is to promote sports and healthy activities by building a state-of-the-art resource in communities in which field use is in high demand. Recognizing the importance of these fields to local communities, the Chicago Park District has installed field lights and will waive permit fees during specific times throughout the week for youth and community groups that meet eligibility requirements. Construction is underway at Mandrake Park, 900 E. Pershing Rd.
About the Partners
The Take the Field initiative is led by the Pritzker Traubert Family Foundation and joins public and private resources to build 11 artificial turf athletic fields in underserved and geographically diverse Chicago parks. The Pritzker Traubert Family Foundation has committed to donate up to $5 million on a 1:1 matching basis for the new facilities to encourage community residents, particularly youth, to engage in sports and healthy activities. To date, over $12 million has been dedicated to the initiative thanks to its partners. Six fields were constructed last summer and five fields are scheduled to open by the end of 2012.
Cristo Rey Jesuit High School is a Catholic, coeducational, dual-language college preparatory school, located in the Pilsen neighborhood of Chicago. All students participate in the Corporate Work Study Program which allows them to gain real world work experience while offsetting the cost of their education.
Chicago Cubs Charities supplements the efforts of the team to harness the passion of Cubs fans and improve the lives of children and families across Chicago. Chicago Cubs Charities looks for opportunities where moderate funding can produce significant results within the community.
Alderman Daniel Solis is the representative for the 25th Ward of Chicago. He represents Pilsen, the largest Mexican-American community in the country, the University Village-community encompassing the prestigious University of Illinois’ Chicago campus, and Chicago’s fast-growing Chinatown community.
The Chicago Park District owns more than 8,200 acres of green space, and offers thousands of sports and physical activities as well as cultural and environmental programs. The Chicago Park District is also responsible for 77 indoor and outdoor pools and 26 miles of lakefront.