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Lakeview's Biggest Park Will Be Named After History-Making Cubs Exec

 The park at 1230 W. School St. will be named after Margaret Donahue, one of the first female executives in Major League Baseball.
School Street Playlot
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LAKEVIEW — It's official: The long-awaited School Street Playlot will be named after former Cubs executive Margaret Donahue.

The Chicago Park District voted unanimously Wednesday to name the park at 1230 W. School St. after Donahue, who made history as one of the first female executives in major league baseball.

She moved to Chicago at 16 to find work as a secretary and was hired as a stenographer by Bill Veeck, then-president of the Cubs.

She soon rose through the ranks, becoming a bookkeeper, corporate secretary and, eventually, vice president of the Cubs. Donahue is credited with creating season tickets and reduced-price tickets for kids.

"Naming the site in honor of Margaret Donahue is especially meaningful this year as the city and the Cubs celebrate the 100th anniversary of Wrigley Field," said Julia Bachrach, a park district historian.

The park district in August opened up a 45-day window for public input on the name, which was recommended by the School Street Advisory Council.

Margaret Donahue Park, which has been dubbed the School Street Playlot over the years, has taken more than a decade to get off the ground. Construction started in August, and the project should be completed by summer 2015.

Current plans call for an open turf field, shade structures and a 40-foot interactive water feature.

"This is going to be a real treasure," Ald. Tom Tunney (44th) said. "My belief is, come the first weekend, there will be 100 to 200 families enjoying this park."

The 21,000-square-foot park, which will be Lakeview's largest, was made possible in part by a $1 million donation from the Chicago Cubs. Community members raised $200,000, and there were several private donations.

"We've had a pretty arduous couple of years with the Cubs," Tunney said, "but I've always said that the most important thing is to be good neighbors, and this is a real sign of their commitment to the Lakeview community."

Regina Manning, one of Donahue's great nieces, told the park district Wednesday her family was grateful to have a park named after Donahue.

"To us, she was a wonderful aunt and family role model," Manning said.

The Cubs and Wrigley Field are 95 percent owned by a trust established for the benefit of the family of Joe Ricketts, owner and CEO of DNAinfo.com. Joe Ricketts has no direct involvement in the management of the iconic team.

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