Chicago Fire FC break ground on new youth community center in west side neighborhood

Chicago Fire FC and Chicago Fire Foundation announced Wednesday that they have broken ground on a youth community center in Chicago's North Austin neighborhood. The project is in partnership with By The Hand Club for Kids, Grace Revival Center and Intentional Sports and aims to help close the opportunity gap for youth on Chicago’s west side.

The 150,000 square feet center will host indoor space and outdoor turf fields, including the only FIFA regulation indoor turf field in Chicago. The center will also offer more than 20 hours a week of free soccer programming for locals. The center will be the permanent home of the Fire Foundation's PLAYS program for youth players, as well as homes for By the Hand Club for Kids, Grace Revival Center and Intentional Soccer.

"This professional-level facility in North Austin is more than just a place for our children to stay active and experience the joy of sports, but it is reshaping the future for so many young people in Chicago," By The Hand Club founder Donnita Travis said in a statement. "We’re proud after years of work to have this moment come to life and it truly would not be possible without the Chicago Fire Foundation’s generous donation and the assistance of developing the facility."

The project is one of 12 associated with Rebuilding Illinois, the state's largest ever capital program. It is intended to be the first of its kind center with professional-level facilities for its community, with a focus on sports, education, and wellness. It is scheduled to open in the summer of 2022.