by Todd Thomas, Staff Writer
Recreational and fitness options at the Uptown lakefront got a huge boost recently when the Chicago Park District’s Wilson Ave. track and field construction was completed and facilities were opened to the public about two months ago.
The new facility replaced the old field that was in bad shape, according to Park District spokesperson Jessica Maxey-Faulkner. “The previous field was among the first artificial turf fields ever built on Chicago Park District land,” she said. “It was approximately 14 years old and needed to be resurfaced.”
The facility features an eight-lane, 400-meter state-of-the art track, long-jump run and sandpit with a regulation-size football and soccer artificial-turf field. It cost $2 million and took nine months to build.
“We expect everyone to use the field — youth and adults alike,” Maxey-Faulkner said. “We envision usage from both Chicago Public Schools and private groups, universities, sports clubs, etc.”
Truman athletics has taken advantage of the facility, as the soccer teams and basketball squad have used it for practice and workouts. Anthony Gamboa, head men’s soccer coach, has led practice on the field, with plans of playing games there next season.
“The field on Wilson Ave. is much more convenient for us in terms of its location relative to the college,” Gamboa said. “I am currently using it for practice. We currently have not, however, used it for games because unfortunately it is booked, according to the Park District.”
The Truman basketball team has also taken advantage of the field for preseason workouts.
“We used it for our preseason conditioning,” said John Cooksey, head men’s basketball coach. “It is a fantastic facility (and) we used the track for competitive relays and distance training. We used the soccer field for measured sprints, form running, agility training and dynamic stretching — it is a wonderful resource for the community.”
The track and field are now open year-round unless it is covered in snow.