Groundbreaking at Clark Park/ Lane
It would have been a good day to play two high school baseball games at Kerry Wood Cubs Field. Cubs chairman Tom Ricketts and former Cub pitcher Kerry Wood were among many VIPS on hand at the ground breaking ceremony of the new high school baseball stadium at Lane that will be named after Wood.
Wood retired from the Cubs in May.
The new field is expected to be finished by spring or summer of 2013. The stats on the new public stadium is 1,100 fans, lights, and field turf. Wood was one of the many donors to this project that is expected to cost $5 million dollars.
"Kerry Wood is one of the real people who played major league baseball," Lane head varsity baseball coach Dean Stavrakas said after the ceremony. "Kerry Wood has put his money where his mouth is and always has put his best foot forward. That foundation has done a lot of great things."
The Cubs also team funds and Cubs Charities to fund the new stadium, which will serve as the home field for Lane. The facility will also host regular season and postseason games by city teams.
There are many football stadiums in the city, but there is no baseball stadium for CPS teams. Lane is hoping to host state playoff games in the future.
"The fact is I'm glad today happened," Ricketts admitted. "We finally got all of the dots connected to get this project started."
"For me, this is what my foundation is about , which is giving back to the community," Wood added.
Other partners in this venture are the City of Chicago, Chicago Park District, Chicago Public Schools, and Turner Construction.
"I will be honored to play the first game," Lane senior Walter Nolan-Cohn said. "I hope this stadium is built on time."
"The field will be ready," Stavrakas stated.
"It's going to be a great advantage for our kids," Lane Principal Chris Dignam said. "Having an environment that you feel comfortable in that's going to excite our players. They are going to play great games here. It is going to inspire them to do better."
A new field for Lane is nice, but they won't need much inspiration after losing the Public League title game to Simeon and its opening game in the state playoffs to Maine West last season.
"Winning city is a goal, but we are beyond that," Stavrakas said as he begins his second season as Lane's skipper. "Our objective will be a lot different than just winning city. One of the mistakes I made last year was I allowed the kids to focus too much on the winning city. Win or lose city, we will make an impact in the state playoffs."
"We hope to have the next generation of Phil Cavarretta (play here)," said Laura Ricketts, who leads Cubs Charities.
Cavarretta played prep baseball at Lane before joining the Cubs.
Cavarretta was a Lane player drafted out of high school. Born in 1916, he was a life-long Cub. He played his first professional minor league game at age 17. Cavarretta passed away in 2010.
Wood is one of many athletes who has given back to the community. Now, he is looking forward to working with the Cubs and doing clinics at the field named in his honor.
"It's nice to be able to give back," Wood admitted in a press conference after the ceremony. "I'm looking forward to driving down Addison and seeing kids play baseball. Today was a great day."
For Cub fans another great day would be winning the World Series. Ricketts and his family will begin his fourth season owning and operating the team. Ricketts talked about the playoffs this season as a spectator and not a participant.
"It's not hard for me to flip on (postseason) game," Ricketts said. "I don't mind watching some of the drama. We have some great series. I have sent out some congratulatory texts. It would be hard for me to sit in a stadium and watch. That would be too much."
All four division series went five games.
Speaking of playoffs, maybe the first game at Kerry Wood Cubs Field could be a rematch between Simeon and Lane with the first pitch by Wood?
Read the Cubs Charities release