Chicago mayor Rahm Emanuel and the Chicago Park District have announced a gift from Ariel Investments president Mellody Hobson and her husband, George Lucas, for construction of an indoor track facility at Gately Park on the city's South Side.
The gift of $10 million from Hobson and the George Lucas Family Foundation will fund the Gately Indoor Track & Field Facility, the first public indoor track and field facility in Chicago with the capacity to host athletic programs and national intercollegiate events. Signatories to the Giving Pledge, Lucas and Hobson made the donation on behalf of After School Matters, a nonprofit whose board Hobson chairs and for which the Gately facility will serve as a neighborhood campus. Spanning approximately 134,000 square feet, the facility will include an eight-lane track with a full range of track and field event capabilities, a warm-up area, a meet management control room, concessions, multipurpose rooms, and locker rooms. With additional funding from the city, the park district, and the Exelon Corporation, the project is scheduled to be completed in August 2019.
The project is part of a partnership between the CPD and After School Matters aimed at providing mentoring and job training for area youth. ASM currently runs more than twelve hundred afterschool and summer programs across the city serving nearly sixteen thousand teens annually. The nonprofit has pledged to raise an additional $5 million for programming at the new facility.
"The indoor track at Gately Park will create much-needed opportunities for the Pullman and Roseland communities to stay safe, to stay engaged, and to stay on track to a brighter future," said Emanuel. "With the availability of year-round training, student athletes will be able to better compete for and earn college scholarships."
"This announcement is a crucial part of After School Matters' longer-term growth strategy of replicating our model of dedicated teen programming space in additional Chicago neighborhoods, particularly in underserved communities," said the organization's CEO, Mary Ellen Caron. "Our work is far from complete, and it is only thanks to the continued dedication of our entire community of supporters that we will be able to provide the opportunities that Chicago's teens need and deserve. What is most exciting to me is that this space will be intentionally designed for teenagers to learn, grow, and discover their potential in a safe and supportive environment.