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Softball Fields Are Out At Lake Shore Park; Coed Leagues To Play Elsewhere

By David Matthews | February 8, 2017 3:41pm
 Ald. Brian Hopkins (2nd) wants to remove the softball fields from Lake Shore Park, 808 N. Lake Shore Drive.
Ald. Brian Hopkins (2nd) wants to remove the softball fields from Lake Shore Park, 808 N. Lake Shore Drive.
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Facebook/Danna Wulf

STREETERVILLE — Visitors to Lake Shore Park this spring will see more grass but a lot less softball. 

The ball diamonds at the quaint park, 808 N. Lake Shore Drive, will be removed "as soon as the weather allows," Ald. Brian Hopkins (2nd) told Streeterville neighbors Tuesday night. The park district will replace the ballpark's two diamonds with grass.

Hopkins first called to remove the park's diamonds last summer, when he told Chicago Park District officials that they take up too much space for anything else. 

RELATED: Alderman Wants Softball Fields Gone From Lake Shore Park

The diamonds were primarily used by an adult softball league some neighbors said outgrew the park, a rare glassy enclave in Streeterville surrounded by luxury high-rises. Some neighbors told Hopkins they'd been hit by fly balls knocked out of the park. 

"If you want to use the field to teach your kid to kick a soccer ball, throw a Frisbee, lay a blanket down for a picnic, you can’t," Hopkins told DNAinfo last summer.

The removal will affect the Chicago Sport & Social Club, which paid the park district $14,000 every year to use the Lake Shore Park diamonds for its coed softball leagues. Chris Hastings, president of the Chicago Sport & Social Club, said the club is "disappointed" to lose two diamonds, but understands Hopkins' position. 

The club, which uses softball fields at more than 60 locations throughout the city, said it will move the Lake Shore Park league to nearby locales including Lincoln Park, Grant Park and Seward Park. 

Hopkins said removing the diamonds will "return the use of the park to the community." Parkland is a commodity in Streeterville, and it "didn't make sense to have this park tied up all summer long" with softball leagues, he said. A pop-up backstop parents can use for T-ball or batting practice will be provided once the diamonds are gone, Hopkins said. 

It's unclear how long the ball diamond removal will take, or how much it will cost. A spokeswoman for the Park District did not immediately return a message seeking comment.