One good park deserves another. In the case of the Chicago Cubs, a deal to allow renovations to Wrigley Field will include a $1 million gift from the franchise to build a community play area in a nearby neighborhood.
The Cubs franchise had been in talks with the city to gain approval for substantial changes to the ballpark and the surrounding neighborhood, the most controversial of which was a new, 500-space parking garage that was ultimately abandoned. Aside from fending off an influx of parking spaces, the neighborhood also secured a win in the form of $3.75 million the Cubs have agreed to invest in community projects over the next nine years.
The first beneficiary of the committed funds is the School Street Playlot, a $1.5 million park that will be built in the Lakeview community, on the site of a former factory. The city just held a ceremonial groundbreaking for the park, which will be the second-largest public recreation space in the community, at 21,000 square feet. Park planners also raised $200,000 from other donors, and continue to fundraise for upkeep costs.
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The playlot will include a water feature, separate sections for users of different ages, a large grassy area, picnic tables, and an art wall featuring work from local artist David Lee Csiscko. The advisory committee for the park is seeking to name the playlot after Cubs executive Margaret Donahue, who was a trailblazer for women working in sports.
The park has been in the works for some time now, with fundraising efforts beginning in late 2012. Planners have held neighborhood cleanup days, fundraising events, corporate sponsorship, and donation-matching programs.
Neighborhood relations have not always been an easy subject for the Chicago Cubs, but the franchise makes an effort to smooth things out by backing such community projects. Aside from the $3.75 million in agreed-upon support for neighborhood projects, the Cubs keep a philanthropic fund through the McCormick Foundation that has given more than $1 million over the past four years.
Find out more about the Cubs Care fund here.