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Could Clarendon Park Be New Home to Cubs Urban Youth Academy?

By Josh McGhee | December 3, 2015 5:47am
 The Clarendon Park Community Center, at 4501 N. Clarendon Ave., would be renovated in the process.
The Clarendon Park Community Center, at 4501 N. Clarendon Ave., would be renovated in the process.
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Courtesy of the Chicago Park District

UPTOWN — Clarendon Park Field House could receive a multimillion dollar makeover courtesy of the Chicago Cubs.

Over the last few months, Ald. James Cappleman (46th) has been discussing a potential partnership between the Cubs organization and the Park District to create an indoor baseball academy and rehab the community center at 4501 N. Clarendon Ave., Cappleman said via email.

At Monday's 46th Ward Zoning and Development meeting, Cappleman said the field house was in "really bad shape" and that the Park District had made it clear it didn't have funds to rehab the building.

At the meeting, Michael Lufrano, senior vice president of community affairs for the Cubs, confirmed the organization was looking for a community with a field house that needed to be renovated for their baseball academy for urban youths. Clarendon Park is being considered, but "nothing is set in stone."

The academy would give neighborhood children "somewhere to go after school" and "use baseball as a hook to talk about citizenship," he said.

Over the last decade, the organization has donated more than $1 million a year to community projects including Kerry Wood Cubs Field, which opened in Roscoe Village in September, and Margaret Donahue Park in Lakeview, Lufrano said.

Earlier this year, the historic field house, which suffers from water problems and other building code violations, was able to get some minor repairs through the Chicago Park District, but not enough to put a dent in the deteriorating condition of the building. It was also named one of the most threatened buildings in Chicago by a local preservation group.

The building was built in 1916 and became a community center in the 1930s.

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