"Take The Field" Initiative Opens New Athletic Field in Altgeld Park
The Chicago Park District was joined by hundreds of Chicago-area youth athletes, coaches, a consortium of public-private donors and elected officials to celebrate the grand opening of the new artificial turf athletic field at Altgeld Park, 515 S. Washtenaw Ave., today, as part of the “Take the Field” initiative.
“Take the Field” joins public and private resources to build 11 artificial turf athletic fields throughout the City of Chicago. Partners for Altgeld Park’s field include the Pritzker Traubert Family Foundation, the LISC/NFL Grassroots Program and Chicago Hope Academy and its community partners, with additional support from tax increment financing.
“Whether it is Altgeld Park, Gage Park, Humboldt Park or Garfield Park – Chicago’s parks anchor our neighborhoods and contribute to the quality of our children’s lives,” said Mayor Rahm Emanuel. “That is why the City is making an unprecedented investment in our parks system, rehabbing 100 basketball courts, 8 new artificial turf fields, and ensuring that every resident lives within a ten minute walk of a quality park. I am grateful to everyone involved in the 'Take the Field' initiative for investing in our children’s health and recreation.”
“Take the Field is an exemplary model of public-private partnership, and it creates an opportunity for youth to stay active,” said Chicago Park District General Superintendent and CEO Michael P. Kelly.
The new field is equipped for football, soccer, rugby, baseball, little league and softball. The celebration will include two high school sporting events in which Chicago Hope Academy plays soccer against Fenwick and football against North Shore Country Day. Jesse White Tumblers round out the festivities with a half-time performance.
“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 six fields built last summer are in high demand by the community, and we are thankful for all of the public and private partners who came together to build this exciting new field in Altgeld Park.”
Bob Muzikowski, President and Founder of Chicago Hope Academy, said, “"With our shared responsibility to honor God and love our neighbor as ourselves, we are honored to be a partner in bringing the community together through this new athletic field."
“Public recreational spaces are essential to the health of every neighborhood,” said Susana Vasquez, LISC Chicago’s executive director, “and this new field at Altgeld Park will be a significant community asset. We’re happy to have played a role, with the Chicago Bears, in helping it become a reality.”
“The NFL Grassroots Program was created to encourage positive and healthy youth development,” said Patrick McCaskey, senior director of special projects for the Bears. “We think athletics pay real dividends in the lives of young people and the vibrancy of their communities.”
Altgeld Park is the seventh field to open as part of the Take the Field initiative. The eighth field, Haas Park, 2402 N. Washtenaw, will open a soccer field Oct. 11 funded by the Take the Field Initiative and the Manchester City Football Club’s City Soccer in the Community program.
The “Take the Field” initiative 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.
Last fall, six fields were completed at Humboldt Park, Allstate Field, 1400 N. Sacramento Ave., supported by Allstate; Cornell Square Park, Teach for America Field, 1809 W. 50th St., supported by the Finnegan Family; Jackson Park, Jackson Park Field, 6401 S. Stony Island Ave., supported by Bears Care; Garfield Park, 100 N. Central Park Ave., Sacks Field, supported by the Sacks Family; La Follette Park, 1333 N. Laramie Ave., La Follette Park Field and running track, supported by Bears Care, LISC/NFL Grassroots Program and the Parkways Foundation; and Pasteur Park, 5825 S. Kostner Ave., Chicago Fire Soccer Club Field, supported by the Chicago Fire and U.S. Soccer Foundation. Construction is underway at Haas Park, 2402 N. Washtenaw; Harrison Park, 1824 S. Wood St.; Mandrake Park, 900 E. Pershing Rd.; and Davis Square Park, 4430 S. Marshfield Ave.
Each athletic field will feature an all-weather surface and lighting that will allow the field to be used 9 months out of the year at minimum. Fields will be lined for soccer, and in many cases, also for football and other sports.
The Pritzker Traubert Family Foundation has committed to donate up to $5 million on a 1:1 matching basis. To date, $13.3 million has been dedicated to the program thanks to its partners.
About the NFL Grassroots Program
The NFL Grassroots Program is a partnership of the National Football League Youth Football Fund (NFL YFF), which funds the program, and LISC, which provides technical assistance and manages the program. The goal of the NFL Grassroots Program is to provide non-profit, neighborhood-based organizations with financial and technical assistance to improve the quality, safety, and accessibility of local football fields. The NFL Grassroots Program provides grants of up to $200,000 for capital improvement projects.
About LISC Chicago
LISC Chicago organizes capital and other resources to support initiatives that stimulate the comprehensive development of healthy, stable neighborhoods and foster their connection to the socioeconomic mainstream of the metropolitan region. Since 1980, LISC Chicago has infused more than $196 million into housing, human and economic development projects, leveraging a total of $4.8 billion in aggregate community investment. The results are quantifiable: with LISC support nearly 30,000 units of affordable housing and 5 million square feet of commercial space have been developed and more than 20,000 Chicago residents have been engaged in planning, provided training, or direct service to improve their quality of life.
About Chicago Hope Academy
Chicago Hope Academy is Chicago's only non-denominational Christian high school, whose motto is: "Preach the gospel at all times. If necessary, use words." In just its eighth year, Chicago Hope’s ACT average is 21.5, higher than all charters. Seniors have been admitted to the most competitive universities in the nation, including U.S. Naval Academy in Annapolis, Md., Columbia University, Notre Dame, University of Illinois, Wake Forrest and Georgetown. Chicago Hope has 100% college placement for graduates. Athletically, Hope (25-4) ranked as high as 15th in the state last basketball season defeating Marshall, Proviso West and Loyola. Girls’ soccer and softball have won regional championships. The boys’ rugby team finished third in the state last year.