International support makes new Haas Park soccer field a reality in Logan Square


Michael Kelly makes a point as Ambassador Yousef Al Otaiba, Mayor Emanuel, Alderman Moreno and Tony Porfino listen

The collaborative efforts and support of the England's Manchester City Football Club (MCFC), the Embassy of the United Arab Emirates (UAE) in Washington D.C., the Pritzker Traubert Family Foundation's "Take the Field Initiative," the Chicago Park District (CPD), the 1st Ward and the Haas Park Advisory Council is what made the new soccer field in Haas Park, 2402 N. Washtenaw Ave. (along Fullerton Ave.) possible.


Gary Hopkins explains the partnerships and the efforts of many

"We didn't choose Chicago, Chicago chose us. This community's spirit and friendliness along with the Park's Advisory Council has been quite amazing," said Gary Hopkins, MCFC's Board Director for City-Soccer In the Community (CSC), during the Field's opening ceremony Oct. 12. "This is not just a soccer field or game, it is an opportunity. Who knows where this can take you. There are college coaches. There are scholarships. There is opportunity. It is a world game."


Hopkins speaks with the Mayor and Ambassador before proceedings begin


Bryan Traubert delivers his message to the audience

It was Hopkins who took time to understand Chicago by visiting with schools, community leaders and coaches before declaring Chicago and Haas Park as the site of the 4th USA inner city location. MCFC, originally established in 1880, formed the USA not-for-profit City Soccer in the Community. It works with 20 schools and programs in New York City and in 2010 partnered with the Embassy of the UAE to build soccer fields in New York, Los Angeles, Miami and now Chicago. 


Following the ceremonies all ages attacked the net

Built in a month, the Haas field, at 43 by 63 yards, is about 2/3 the size of a regular field. The artificial turf, which is atop a drainage system that will drain the field within 5 minutes after a downpour, along with the lights will permit year-around space for soccer enthusiasts. In addition to partnering to build the field, MCFC will be providing three years of teaching and coaching.


Gives his thanks and words of encouragement to the crowd

"Our kids need math and music. Our kids need algebra and athletics. Our kids need science and sports," said the Mayor. "On Friday, I introduced the budget increasing after-school programs by 30% so 13,000 children will now get the activity that they need.

"Because of invests like this and a full school day, the children of Chicago are finally getting what they need for a full education and a brighter future."

Well known former British player Mike Summerbee acknowledges his introduction

Tony Porfino, President of the Haas Park Advisory Council, reminded everyone that it was only six years ago that the traffic was so bad it was unsafe for people to be in the Park. "The building was the old picnic shelter bricked in. We called it our field house. There was warehouse, right here, were gangs sold drugs and recruited members. With the help of the Park District, former 1st Ward Alderman Manny Flores and the community, we cleaned-up the area, got the warehouse torn down, the land acquired and the Field House built."


Penny Pritzker and her husband observe ceremonies along with two students

"Congratulations to the Haas Park community for their on-going efforts and tireless volunteerism in making sure that Logan Square has Haas Park to serve the needs of children and families of the area," commented Flores in a phone conversation. "Park renovations and the soccer field are a culmination of long-term goals addressing the quality of life in that part of Logan Square. It is an honor for me to be able to say that I had the opportunity to work with the good and selfless community residents."

Moreno who took office with a $1.5 million menu commitment made by Flores said that he was pleased to be able to assist in this new improvement in the Park. Furthermore he believes that the partnership with Goethe Elementary School is important for the coalescence of the community.


Ceremony was well attended

Multitudes of community residents, fans, players and would-be-footballers filled the Park and new field along with Mayor Rahm Emanuel; Alderman Moreno; CPD's Commission President Bryan Trauber; Penny Pritzker, Pritzker Traubert Foundation; Mike Kelly, CPD General Superintendent and Chief Executive Officer (CEO); Gary Hopkins; Mike Summerbee, MCFC; the United Arab Emirates USA Ambassador Yousef Al Otaiba; and Robert Chatterton Dickson Great Britain's Consul General.


Soccer fans now have bleechers to sit on

Children from as young as four or five and older were anxious for people

to clear the Field so they could get on with some drills. Their enthusiasm and skills would seem to ensure the success of the program and the Field.



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