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Tuesday, May 20, 2014

Special Olympics Chicago gets OK for permanent home & sports complex

By Kristen Schorsch | Crain's Chicago | May 20, 2015

Special Olympics Chicago has been given approval to build an estimated $30 million sports complex and permanent home in the Illinois Medical District.

The seven-member commission of the Near West Side economic development district approved the project unanimously today, a spokeswoman said. (One member was absent.)

The Chicago Park District will own and operate the new facility.

“We're thrilled and we're beyond words that we've got our site,” said Jay Doherty, president of the City Club of Chicago and a Special Olympics Chicago volunteer who is leading the effort to raise money for construction. “Now we can focus on the project and the fundraising.”

“This facility would help preserve the rich legacy of Special Olympics in Chicago and would be transformational for the local organization,” Gov. Pat Quinn said in a statement from the medical district. “Operating year-round, the facility would serve Special Olympic athletes and area children and adults with intellectual disabilities, as well as disabled veterans and people with physical disabilities.”

Plans call for a 2,800-seat stadium, a four-acre multipurpose field and a 63,000-square-foot fieldhouse with administrative offices. The Medical District allocated a total of 12 acres for the project at West 14th and South Wood streets.

Now without a permanent home of its own, Special Olympics Chicago works with the Chicago Park District, among other groups, to provide sports training and programming in parks and facilities throughout the city. That requires the organization's roughly 5,000 athletes to trek from place to place, depending on the sport or activity they want to participate in.

The goal is to have the complex up and running before 2018, the Special Olympics' 50th anniversary. Special Olympics Chicago held the first international Special Olympics games in 1968 at Soldier Field.


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