NEAR WEST SIDE — Former pitcher Kerry Wood, who was on the last Chicago Cubs team to get close to a World Series, agrees with team chairman Tom Ricketts who said last week that the team needs to properly renovate Wrigley Field if it hopes to win a championship.
The 35-year-old former ace, who had two stints with the Cubs, said Wednesday that the team needs to go through with the $500 million renovation plan to attract top athletes to the North Side franchise.
“I don’t think you’re gonna get free agent players coming over to spend time here when facilities are what they are compared to everyone else's in both leagues,” Wood said.
"It’s important for them to get the stadium in shape."
Wood’s comments came at a news conference for a scholarship program his family foundation is launching at the University of Illinois at Chicago.
The Kerry and Sarah Wood Family Foundation Scholarship will target high school seniors in Austin, Englewood, Humboldt Park and Lawndale.
Each year, one student will be enrolled full time at UIC's Honors College and live on campus. All tuition, fees, assessments, books, and room and board are included, including a laptop computer.
The first recipient for fall will be announced in May.
“We’re on the ground, and we get in these neighborhoods and get to meet these families and kids. Not a lot of people are going into these neighborhoods,” Wood said.
Wood's wife, Sarah, said the full ride could really help a student who doesn’t have the resources to pay back money after graduation.
“After their college education’s over, they can go on to be who they were meant to be,” Sarah Wood said.
Gov. Pat Quinn, who was also at the news conference, told Wood he thought his choice of UIC was appropriate, as the school is a “first-generation university."
“Many, many of the students and graduates are the first person in their family to go to college, and it is so important that we have those aspirations of excellence for everyone,” he said.