BRIGHTON PARK — Kelly High School students and other neighborhood kids have upgraded soccer, baseball and basketball facilities thanks to the Cubs, ESPN and local groups.
Cubs Charities and ESPN unveiled Saturday the upgraded facilities at Kelly Park, 2725 W. 41st St., that were made possible by $92,000 donated by the two groups. The $130,000 project — funded jointly with the Chicago Park District — included a complete overhaul of the park's basketball courts, a renovation of its artificial turf baseball fields, new dugouts, drinking fountains and a giant solar-powered scoreboard.
Those upgrades are on top of a $2 million turf soccer-football-baseball field that was installed in 2015, donated in part by the NFL and LISC Chicago, a group that connects neighborhoods to resources. The end product is a crown jewel for the community, according to those at the unveiling.
"This project is amazing — I can remember being in Brighton Park back in 2011 and looking around this field and knowing this is a community that has the least amount of green space per capita in the city of Chicago," said Keri Blackwell, assistant director for community affairs with Cubs Charities. "The residents and the community leaders really came together to identify resources to bring a new football field, baseball diamond and basket courts to this neighborhood."
Sports teams from Kelly High School, across the street from the small neighborhood park, now have practice and game space near their school, officials said.
Juan Flores, a 2017 graduate of Kelly, said the park was in such "desperate need of renovation" during his freshman year that his coaches and teachers would worry someone would get hurt on the uneven fields.
"I found it sad how after so many years nothing was done to improve Kelly Park," Flores said. "Today is a big day for Kelly Park and our community because, thankfully, the Chicago Cubs Charities Diamond Project and ESPN Home Court Chicago has now given us the ... the field and court we've all been needing and dreaming of."
The Cubs and Wrigley Field are 95 percent owned by an entity controlled 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.