You won't find any kids playing baseball in Humboldt Park in January, but when the weather is nice the ball fields are packed. Pretty soon -- maybe even by the summer -- young baseball stars on the West Side will get to play on the nicest park district field in the city.
The old field, called Cubs Care Park on North Halsted was a mini version of Wrigley Field, built with funds that included $1 million from the Chicago Cubs. But because of the gentrification of the Cabrini Green area, and because of declining enrollment, the YMCA decided to sell the land to a developer. The field was demolished. Now it will be rebuilt in Humboldt Park.
"Taking a field that had been such a great asset to one community and moving it to Humboldt Park, we're really excited about it. We know it will be used by people who are passionate about baseball. And it's a great community," said Mike Lufrano, Chicago Cubs community relations.
Cubs Care Park seated about 250 people, but the new field will be an 800 seat mini-stadium.
A field near the intersection of Division and Kedzie is one of two possible sites for the new stadium. The old one cost about $1.2 million, the new one will cost about $2 million. Fortunately for little league players, that money has already been secured.
"So what we wanted is that less privileged kids got the chance to play ball," said Steve Cole, president and CEO, YMCA Chicago .
Cole says the park district will have a lot of work to do maintaining and scheduling the new field after it's built. It will likely be used seven days a week during the summer.
"We had Alderman Ocasio, the park district and the Cubs come together to make this happen," said Cole.
"It's about dreams. It's about seeing that young person and the smile that they will get and the way their eyes will glow. And they're coming off that field," said Ald. Billy Ocasio, 26th Ward.
It is hard to find anyone more excited about the new field than Ocasio.
"I think the Cubs and the YMCA have been great, they came to us because they know where baseball is played the most, is in Humboldt Park," said Ocasio.
Construction will start as soon as they pick an exact location in Humboldt Park.