UIC to Unveil Curtis Granderson Stadium on Thursday|
April 15, 2014
CHICAGO – The University of Illinois at Chicago (UIC) will unveil the newly completed Curtis Granderson Stadium on April 17 with a grand opening celebration, kicking off a weekend of activities at the new ballpark. The $10 million stadium was funded in part by $5 million contributed by Curtis Granderson, a UIC Hall-of-Famer, three-time MLB All-Star and current outfielder for the New York Mets. The venue will be the new home of Flames Baseball, but more importantly, will host more than 38 youth organizations in Chicago.
Granderson announced his gift to fund the ballpark in February of 2013, at the inaugural Diamond Dinner hosted by UIC Baseball. The contribution is the largest gift in UIC Athletics history, and is also the single largest known gift from a professional athlete to their alma mater.
“I’m thrilled to partner with my alma mater (UIC) to provide the City of Chicago a state-of-the-art facility in which our youth can play, learn and grow,” said Granderson. “UIC has played an integral role in shaping who I am as an athlete and as a person, so I’m confident that this facility will have a tremendous impact on our community. I’ve learned many important lessons growing up in Chicago, both in the classroom and on the baseball field, so it’s a privilege to now help provide those same opportunities.”
The new ballpark has a total capacity of 1,784, with 1,284 fixed seats and space for 500 in the seating berms beyond left and right field. The ballpark also features a luxury suite, which can accommodate 40, and a press box and suite for media. In addition to the ballpark, a new training room and team room has been added as well as two outdoor, synthetic turf practice tunnels. The project was designed by Populous, a sports architecture firm, and construction is being managed by Turner Construction.
“Curtis Granderson Stadium is a facility that we believe has the potential to reshape how universities – particularly those in urban locations – use their athletic facilities to impact their surrounding communities,” said Jim Schmidt, UIC Athletic Director. “We have to think beyond our campuses and instead, think about how our colleges and universities can enrich the fabric of our cities. Curtis Granderson’s contribution and commitment to this ballpark being a community asset has resulted in partnerships with Major League Baseball, Chicago Public Schools and organizations for inner-city youth throughout Chicago. In turn, this ballpark is about more than Flames Baseball and more than UIC. It’s an opportunity to impact the future of our city’s youth.”
“We are fortunate to have an alumnus like Curtis who is so much more than an athlete – he’s a role model who is committed to serving youth in his hometown and beyond,” said UIC baseball head coach Mike Dee. “Curtis’ contribution will be felt by the campus and city for generations to come. Seeing the ballpark come out of the ground over the past seven months has been a reminder of his leadership and a symbol of what the future has in store for the Flames and Chicago youth.”
Opening weekend, April 17-19, will feature a three-game series against Wright State. The festivities will kick off on April 17 with a ceremonial first pitch thrown out by Granderson at the 4:05 pm game. Immediately following the game, UIC Baseball will host their second annual Diamond Dinner in the Flames Athletic Center.
April 18 will be a “Student Day” at the ballpark, with the game starting at 6:05 pm, and UIC and Chicago high school students invited to enjoy an evening at the new facility.
Saturday’s game, scheduled for 12:05 pm on April 19, will be a “Kid’s Day” at the park, with children under 13 admitted free of charge. A pre-game festival, including games, concessions and the opportunity to meet the UIC Flames baseball team, will occur starting at 10 am.