The economic downturn has made times tougher for all people, not just in their household bottom lines, but in the public services they relY on. as some city agencies find themselves on the chopping block, a soccer coach looks to park funding and program delivery, both of which are Crucial indicators of a city’s health.
Fortunately, the Chicago Park District has not only nearly doubled its five-year capital improvement budget from the previous plan, but it has also enlisted millions of dollars in matching contributions from the Pritzker Traubert Family Foundation for field improvements. The “Take the Field” initiative plans build 10 brand new lighted turf soccer fields in Chicago parks by the end of next year, and with the recent opening at Pasteur Park in West Elsdon, they are more than halfway there. With the financial partnership of the Chicago Fire for the Pasteur field, more than $7 million total has been dedicated to the six Take the Field initiative fields completed so far.
So for this effort, it’s no wonder that balloon arches and banners decorated the gleaming field at Pasteur Park last Saturday as the Pasteur Urban Initiatives team drilled their skills for the Mayor, Chicago Fire captain Logan Pause and Fire midfielders Michael Videira and Corben Bone, and scores of neighborhood residents. This sunny, windblown day saw both Chicago Park District Superintendent Mike Kelly and commissioner Brian Traubert thank the Urban Initiatives team for their hard work and commitment.
Just as Coach Anthony was bringing the group in for another round, a shout from the other side of the field turned heads: "It’s Sparky! Let’s go!" Sure enough, there was the Chicago Fire mascot Sparky, in all his dalmatian finery, and every kid on the field ran to mob him for pictures and a chance to pat his nose. Things looked pretty dire for the pooch in the hands of dozens of tiny Fire fans, but in the end, Sparky and the Chicago Fire team gave out t-shirts and hats to pacify the fans.
Thus quieted, the Pasteur team and kids from the YMCA, Chicago Park district, and local club teams looked on as representatives from the US Soccer Foundation, the Chicago Fire, the Chicago Park District, and the Mayor spoke of the great improvements to Pasteur Park, and of the need for more of the same in many of Chicago’s parks. Thanks to the support of all these groups, the Pasteur team and neighborhood residents have a beautiful new place to play. We will be there supporting you every step of the way as you continue to prioritize safe and accessible places for Chicago’s youth to play.