GAGE PARK — Neighborhood kids now have access to state-of-the-art soccer fields thanks to Major League Soccer and the Chicago Fire.
MLS stars, Fire officials, city leaders and even the police department's club soccer team and neighborhood officers were on hand in late July to unveil the two mini soccer pitches at Gage Park, 2411 W. 55th St. Both organizations will also help support youth programming at the park, including the Chicago Fire's PLAYS program.
The Chicago Fire, in partnership with MLS charities, donated the fields to the neighborhood as a sort of thank-you to the city for hosting this year's MLS All-Star game at Soldier Field, Mayor Rahm Emanuel said. He thanked the league for its "commitment to another generation."
MLS Commissioner Don Garber "said, we don't just want to come and leave," Emanuel said. "He said, 'What can we leave behind?'"
At the unveiling, local kids and soccer teams got a chance to play a tournament on the fields as well as learn from professionals. Fire midfielder Dax McCarty said he knows the facility will have a positive impact on the community.
"For kids to have places like this to come rather than going to maybe join gangs or do things that don't contribute to the community. Places like this contribute to having a healthy community," McCarty said. "If our kids are safe and if our kids are out having fun, that's the ultimate goal."
Check out a video of the field unveiling, courtesy of the Chicago Police Department: