Cubs, Mayor Emanuel and others break ground on School Street Playlot

CHICAGO - The Chicago Cubs joined the Lakeview community and city officials at 1230 W. School Street today for the School Street Playlot ceremonial groundbreaking. Cubs Chairman Tom Ricketts, along with Mayor Rahm Emanuel, Alderman Tom Tunney, Chicago Park District General Superintendent & Chief Executive Officer Michael Kelly and community residents, celebrated the addition of the play area with a shovels-in-the-ground ceremony this afternoon.

The Chicago Cubs donated $1 million to the construction of the playlot.

"The Chicago Cubs are committed to giving back to the community by being a good neighbor," said Tom Ricketts. "We believe being a part of the fabric of Chicago is an important part of our identity as a team. The Cubs have extended a helping hand to hundreds of organizations and causes through hours of volunteer service and significant donations. We are excited to bring this park to the families of the Lakeview area."

The team actively participates in preserving neighborhood businesses and enhancing the quality of life for Lakeview residents. In addition to the playlot donations, during the last four years Cubs Charities and Cubs Care, a fund of the McCormick Foundation, have contributed more than $1 million directly to the neighborhood, which includes the Horace Greeley School Playlot, Center on Halsted, Lake View YMCA After School Program and St. Joseph Hospital Laboure Clinic. The Cubs will also pay $3.75 million over nine years for community infrastructure related projects as part of an agreement with the city related to Wrigley Field.

The School Street Playlot Advisory Committee is seeking to name the playlot after famed Cubs executive Margaret Donahue, and plans to submit a recommendation to the Chicago Park District for consideration. Donahue broke the barrier for women in sports, working her way up the ladder to become Major League Baseball's first female officer outside of team ownership. William L. Veeck, then-president of the Cubs, hired Donahue as a stenographer in 1919. The club promoted her to corporate secretary in 1926, and in 1950 to vice president and secretary, a post she held until her retirement in 1958. The quiet force behind many of the club's innovations, Donahue pioneered the modern day system of selling season tickets, the sale of tickets at off-site locations and reduced ticket prices for children under 12 years old. She championed promoting the game to women and children, advocating for Ladies' Days, a friendly and professional ushering staff and re-vamping concessions to appeal to families. During Ms. Donahue's long tenure, the Cubs won five National League pennants and became the first National League team to top one million in attendance. Today, the Cubs and other MLB teams continue to use strategies developed by Donahue. 

"Margaret Donahue was a pioneer whose innovative business ideas and love for the game paved the way for many women in professional sports," Ricketts said. "She was an important part of Cubs history and we are honored to have her name considered for this park."

The play area will be the largest park in Lakeview outside of Lincoln Park and will include a water feature, three separate play areas for different age groups, shaded picnic tables and toddler play area, a large open turf area for general play, 40-foot custom mosaic art wall and a replica Wrigley Field Marquee at the park entrance.