Some Questions, Some Answers
What is the Mission?
This project’s mission under the Chicago Lions Charitable Association is to construct a world class sports complex that will provide kids a safe venue for sports. This complex will support inner-city kids achieve an active and healthy lifestyle while enhancing personal development in a challenging environment. This complex will become an integral part of the redevelopment of Chicago’s near west side neighborhoods and help mitigate violence in the area through sports.
Who are Chicago Lions Rugby?
Chicago Lions Rugby are a rugby club formed over 50 years ago, in 1964. Since its inception, the Lions have been considered a premier club in the USA, both in on-field performance and leadership in the rugby community. The club was instrumental in the formation and evolution of USA Rugby (participating in the past Olympics) and is key to expanding the game to high schools and youth teams throughout the region. The club consist of active playing members and an engaged alumnus of over 500.
What is the Chicago Lions Charitable Association (CLCA)?
The CLCA is a 501(c)3 non-profit established in 2011 to advocate physical fitness, sportsmanship, healthy sports competition and personal development. The CLCA and Chicago Lions Rugby have promoted amateur rugby football in the metro Chicago area, especially the promotion and support of high school rugby that has grown to 56 boys’ and girls’ clubs in the area. While the Lions have a long history of involvement in charitable causes, this proposed sports complex is a major social outreach through the CLCA in support of inner-city neighborhoods in need of safe and quality facilities for sports.
Where will the complex be constructed?
The complex will be constructed on the near west side of Chicago on 8 acres of undeveloped land south of 2600 West Polk Street. The land is owned 50/50 by the CLCA and Chicago Hope Academy. To date, $1.6 million has already been spent for the property and land improvements.
What is the complex and cost?
The complex will be constructed in phases as funds become available and when completed will include:
- Two lighted artificial turf fields for rugby, soccer, lacrosse and football.
- A parking lot and bleachers for the main field with a capacity of approximately 5,000.
- A field house between the two fields with a range of amenities and flexibly for players, guest and community use.
- A seasonal dome over one field for winter use.
The estimate total cost of the above is $10 million.
What is the timing?
The complex will be built in phases pending availability of funds and optimal construction planning and staging. Phase 1 was the acquisition and preparation of the land which is largely completed at a cost of $1.6 million. Phase 2 is the completion of the first field in the Fall 2017/Spring 2018 for an estimated $3 million. Subsequent phase will be completed based on our fundraising success.
Who is Chicago Hope Academy and what’s your relationship?
Chicago Hope Academy is a non-denominational Christian high school serving the west side of Chicago. Founded in 2004 by Bob Muzikowski, Hope receives no Federal, State, or Local government funds. Hope strives to be an integrated community ethnically, geographically, and economically. A 501(c)3 non-profit, the majority of Hope students are on scholarship.
Chicago Lions Rugby and CLCA partnered with Chicago Hope Academy a few years ago to help them build a rugby team (class high school champions in 2015). Now with the joint land purchase, the Lions and CLCA are part of the community and believe we can make a more significant positive contribution.
Who will use the complex?
- We would continue our partnership with Chicago Hope Academy which is located almost adjacent to the proposed complex.
- Inner-city high schools including the Chicago Noble Charter Schools and possibly some CPS that in general have poor athletic facilities, if any. For example, Nobel schools have 16 boy & girl rugby teams with insufficient facilities to support this sports program. This complex will be central located nearby many of these high schools and can be used for their outside athletics.
- The community. This complex can serve as a safe facility for youth sports clinics and leagues. Specifically, we can offer summer and holiday camps/activities to provide safe alternatives to gangs and violence. The field house can be used by the community for certain meetings or other purposes.
- Chicago Lions Rugby. Before this social outreach evolved, the idea was to find a home field for the Lions. The club soon saw a broader need in the community and this proposed complex is what has evolved.
- Private organizations. The playing fields and field house can be available for private use. Depending on the use and purpose this can be gratis or for a fee to help offset operating expenses.
- Develop a mentoring program by partnering with existing programs and utilizing the CLCA network.
Why the dome for one off the fields?
There is limited supply of indoor fields within the city limits and the demand for indoor fields far exceeds supply. Organizations pay a premium for indoor fields in the Chicagoland area. By having the dome and the ability to create recurring revenue, this will enable the complex to have the potential to be self-sufficient and less reliant on continuous fundraising drives to meet operating expenses. This funding opportunity notwithstanding, the mission is to support the community and time slots will be carved out for free or at reductions consistent with our mission.
What is your strategy for covering operating costs, maintenance, replacement costs and reserves?
Our goal is to create a consistent revenue stream to cover the operating expenses of the complex. A principle source of revenue is the aforementioned dome. In addition, some users of the facility other than the dome may also pay a fee. Other revenue opportunities are event gates, festivals, concerts, etc.; all which can be explored. Again, this has to be aligned with our mission to support the community.
How do you expect to meet the staffing, personnel demands and day to day operations of this facility to be successful?
We plan to utilize some of Hope’s staff as well as hire a full-time facilities Director. We also will explore partnerships with existing programs that have the infrastructure to run programs indoors and outside. When possible, we will employ some of our Chicago Lions Rugby players and community youth for part-time positions.
Who will be involved in the oversight?
- Fundraising and financial responsibilities – the CLCA board will ultimately be responsible for these activities. Fundraising will rely on the Lions extensive network and connections and if necessary, we can hire a professional fundraiser. Finances will rely on qualified independent professionals that specialize in non-profits. Transparency to major contributors and stakeholders will be provided as agreements require.
- The initial facility development and construction – we have hired a site engineer and consulted with two general contractors, one construction consultant, two artificial turf companies and two dome companies. This has enabled us to get an approximate cost and phased plan. When we have the initial funds to begin phase 2, we will put the project out to bid.
Why is the CLCA taking on such a large social outreach?
Chicago Lions Rugby has been in existence for over 50 years. Over that time, the club has matured and the alumni has grown. Now with a diverse group of experienced business professionals, entrepreneurs, attorneys, engineers and others, combined with the current players and younger professions in the club, we have the knowledge and manpower resources to take on and succeed in an ambitious project as proposed. We strongly believe we can make a positive impact in the community and have a motivated highly successful club supporting this mission.
Please get in touch with any questions.