Granderson Stadium ‘more than just a ballpark’

Granderson Stadium

By serving Chicago youth baseball, Granderson Stadium “represents a real commitment by UIC to Chicago,” says Baseball Digest. Photo: Steve Woltmann

 

Curtis Granderson Stadium, the new home for UIC Baseball and Chicago youth leagues, received the Editor’s Choice Award from Ballpark Digest for its commitment to be “more than just a college ballpark.”

“Baseball has an important role to play among Chicago’s youth — as we saw with the Little League World Series — and having a first-rate facility like Granderson Stadium serve the greater community represents a real commitment by UIC to Chicago,” said Kevin Reichard, Ballpark Digest publisher.

Granderson, a Flames’ Hall-of-Famer, 2003 business graduate and current New York Mets outfielder, donated $5 million to the project, the largest one-time donation by a pro athlete to their alma mater in history, according to Sports Illustrated.

He opened the ballpark April 17 by throwing out the first pitch and cutting the ribbon in front of nearly 1,000 friends, family, media and Flames’ supporters.

Curtis Granderson high-fives a participant at his baseball camp

Curtis Granderson at a youth baseball camp sponsored by his Grand Kids Foundation at UIC in July. Photo: Joshua Clark/UIC Photo Services

Besides its role as home for Flames baseball, Granderson Stadium will host Little League teams, bringing Granderson’s love of the game to Chicago youth.

“When given the opportunity to give back and help those that have helped me, this was one of the first ways we thought about doing it,” Granderson said.

“We want to continue to help out the next student-athlete that comes through UIC and also help spread to the community that UIC is here.

“This is, hands down, one of the top facilities in all of baseball.”

The stadium was designed by Populous, a sports architecture firm whose recent projects include Cubs Park, Marlins Park, Target Field, Yankee Stadium, Nationals Park and TD Ameritrade Park.

“Our designs are responsive to the community and context of a site, a team and a culture. Curtis Granderson Stadium is a perfect illustration of this,” said Pat Tangen, principal at Populous. “The ballpark is on a tight site on an urban campus in an emerging neighborhood with arguably the best view in college baseball.

“But the facility itself was designed to function as much more than a ballpark. We designed the ballpark knowing it would become a community gathering space, a home for Little League teams and the Flames alike and a place that would introduce inner-city kids to the game of baseball. It was incredible to be a part of a project that has such deep meaning to so many,” Tangen said.

“The UIC athletic department is thrilled to have received this award,” said Jim Schmidt, director of athletics. “We are extremely proud of Granderson Stadium and it will stand as the anchor of UIC’s south campus for many generations.

“We are honored to have Curtis as a former student-athlete and continue to be humbled by his generosity and commitment to young people.”