Chicago Public League student athletes will soon be playing baseball and hosting IHSA state baseball playoffs at a new stadium, Kerry Wood Cubs Field, at Clark Park near Lane Tech High School on Addison Street about a mile from Wrigley Field.
The Chicago Cubs, Chicago Cubs Charities, Wood Family Foundation, City of Chicago, Chicago Park District, Chicago Public Schools and Turner Construction all contributed to make the $5 million stadium project possible.
Chicago Cubs Charities Board Chair Laura Ricketts today joined Kerry Wood to break ground on the field along with Cubs Chairman Tom Ricketts, Ald. Ameya Pawar (47th), representatives of the Chicago Park District, Chicago Public Schools, Turner Construction and members of the baseball teams from City Champion Simeon High School, Lane Tech High School and Lakeview High School.
Once completed, Kerry Wood Cubs Field will be owned and operated by the Chicago Park District. The field, which will include seating for 1,100 spectators and fans, is expected to be used by Chicago public high schools citywide throughout the high school baseball season during and after school hours. The Park District also expects to use the field for recreational leagues and use by the general public.
"This new artificial turf field will give children and their families another way to stay active in their community."
"Chicago Cubs Charities is committed to providing increased access to sports opportunities and improving the lives of children and families across this city," said Cubs owner, board member and Chicago Cubs Charities Chair Laura Ricketts. "We are proud of the partnership we developed with Kerry and Sarah Wood, the City, Turner Construction and the Clark Park Advisory Council to make this field a reality."
Kerry Wood retired during the 2012 baseball season as a fan favorite for the Chicago Cubs after a career that included two All-Star appearances, National League Rookie of the Year honors and a share of the record for most strikeouts in a nine-inning game, 20, during a May 6, 1998, win over the Houston Astros. Kerry and his wife Sarah formed the Wood Family Foundation in 2011 and now focus on the community and its children.
"It is an honor to be a part of this project that will help keep public school baseball teams local during playoff season," explained Wood. "We want this field to benefit student athletes in many ways for years to come."
Cubs Chairman Tom Ricketts says the team's investment in the field shows the Chicago Cubs aspire to be the best on and off the field.
"Kerry Wood Cubs Field is a very visible sign of our family's commitment to the City of Chicago and its families," Ricketts said. "By next summer, we look forward to parents, coaches and children celebrating champions and championships at Kerry Wood Cubs Field."
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Cubs legend Phil Cavarretta played at Lane Tech, near the site of Kerry Wood Cubs Field, before making his Wrigley Field debut September 25, 1934. The first baseman and outfielder was the National League's Most Valuable Player and led the Cubs to their last World Series appearance in 1945.
"The Chicago Park District puts children first," said Chicago Park District General Superintendent and CEO Michael Kelly. "This new artificial turf field will give children and their families another way to stay active in their community."
"Kerry Wood Cubs Field will be a great resource for Chicago Public Schools, its student-athletes and the community. It is a great example of what can be done when the private and public sectors work together for the city and its residents," said Chicago Board of Education President David Vitale. "We want to thank the Ricketts family and the Chicago Cubs, Chicago Cubs Charities, Kerry Wood and the Wood Family Foundation, the City of Chicago, Ald. Pawar, the Chicago Park District, DeVry, the Clark Park Advisory Council and Turner Construction for their roles in making this project a reality."
Construction on the new field will begin immediately and should be completed in the first half of 2013.
Credit: Chicago Cubs