CHICAGO (WLS) -- The city of Chicago cut the ribbon on a massive new sports complex in the Pullman neighborhood Thursday.
Several South Side students were the first to explore the new multi-million-dollar community center.
"When you first come in, you just see a whole bunch of different things. You play soccer, baseball and stuff like that - and you're still learning," A'Jewelise Smothers said.
"We mostly don't have things like this. Some kids don't have a place where you can feel nurtured, so I feel good," Shaniyah Spears said.
Alderman Anthony Beale (9th Ward) calls the center a community passion project, envisioned by himself and the Roseland Youth Center. That vision has now come to life.
The center is latest in a series of developments to improve the South Side community.
"We're talking about a $20 million facility that only has a $2.5 million mortgage. The rest of it paid. So, we have a very small mortgage, so we can keep the price point down, so people can afford it, without having to reach into their pockets real deep," Beale said.
"This is a classic case of 'Field of Dreams.' If you build it, they will come," Chicago Mayor Rahm Emanuel said.
The athletic and educational facility on South Woodlawn Avenue is 135,000 square-feet, one of the largest of its kind in the region. It features three full-sized fields, basketball courts and much more.
"We're going to have birthday parties here. We're going to have sports training. More importantly, we're going have ACT/SAT tutoring to anyone who is enrolled in the facility," Beale said.
"In the community I live in, most of the kids are mainly up in gangs and stuff. So this place is a good place for kids to just get out of the house, instead of being up on the streets," Spears said.
The US Bank Pullman Community Center is expected to generate 100 full and part-time jobs in the area, while catering to as many as 1,100 kids a week.
Pullman Community Center now open: Massive indoor sports, educational facility a 'game changer'