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Lincoln Park's Basketball Hoops Return to Former Nike Court

By Paul Biasco | July 24, 2013 8:36am
 The basketball court at the south end of Lincoln Park was completed this week, months after Nike tore up its promotional hardwood court.
Lincoln Park Basketball
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LINCOLN PARK — The basketball nets have finally returned to the south end of Lincoln Park.

The outdoor basketball court at 1800 N. Cannon Drive, just south of the South Pond, had been hoop-less since the fall, when Nike removed a wood court it had installed last year.

Nike had taken over the court as part of a partnership with the Chicago Park District last summer and built the temporary hardwood court with grandstands and lights that was used for a promotional dunk contest and various leagues.

The deal, which also included leasing a field house that Nike turned into the NikeFuel House, netted the park district $600,000 in revenue, improvements and donations, according to park district documents.

Area ballers said the hardwood court was covered with a tarp more times than not and those under  18 couldn't play without a parent's signature.

"The Nike court was nice, but we couldn't really play," said Kobe Rayford, a 15-year-old who lives in Old Town.

He said the new asphalt court is still a much better playing surface than what was there before Nike took over.

Rayford said he and his friends had been trekking to Lincoln Park's Oz Park for most of the summer, and had been told by Nike staff that court was supposed to be ready in May.

When Nike pulled out of the park the company left a beat-up concrete court, according to Tom Gerdes, the project superintendent for the new court.

The roughly 30-day project required Gerdes to put in new drainage and reshape the court.

The new court is regulation size for high school games.

Ellen Isaacson, president of the Lincoln Park Advisory Council, said Nike renovated the field house at the south end of Lincoln Park, but some of the upgrades such as air conditioning were damaged or stolen during a break-in this summer.