Children in Austin and several other Chicago neighborhoods will be able to “Take the Field” on new artificial turf recreational surfaces thanks to a consortium of public-private donors and a matching grant from The Pritzker Traubert Family Foundation (PTTF).
The “Take the Field” initiative joins public and private resources to build 10 artificial turf athletic fields throughout the city, including at La Follette Park, 1333 N. Laramie Ave.
In all, 10 public artificial turf athletic fields located in underserved and geographically diverse Chicago parks will be built over the next two to three years.
Each athletic field will feature an all-weather surface and lighting that will allow the field to be used nine months out of the year. At least three of the fields – including La Follette – will be lined for both soccer and football.
Supported through private and foundation funds, the initiative will enable all fields to be built privately. Recognizing the importance to these fields for local communities, the Chicago Park District will waive any permit fees for youth and community groups that meet the eligibility requirements to use the new fields at certain times throughout the week.
Each field will also have a community advisory group that will play an integral role in field planning and programming. To date, $7.75 million has been dedicated to the program. About $1.9 million is dedicated to La Follette Park.
Design and construction for phase one sites is underway at La Follette as well as Cornell Square, 1809 W. 50th St.; Garfield, 100 N. Central Park Ave.; Humboldt, 1400 N. Sacramento Ave.; Jackson, 6401 S. Stony Island Ave.; and Pasteur, 5825 S. Kostner Ave.
Partners that are helping fund all 10 park renovations include the PTTF, Allstate, Bears Care, Chicago Fire, Finnegan Family, Parkways Foundation and Sacks Family. The Pritzker Traubert Family Foundation has committed to donate up to $5 million on a 1:1 matching basis.
Ald. Emma Mitts applauded the effort Thursday night at an event at the park, saying it’s another way to keep young people off the corners this summer and engaged in positive, uplifting activities.
“I am committed to making sure that the resources are spent in the community to give our youngsters something positive to do this summer. Where there are free or low-cost structured activities, there’s also less likely to be loitering, bullying, threats and neighborhood violence,” she said in a written statement. “I thank the private donors who have invested money to make these improvements possible.”