Transformation of Spalding Park gets underway today

Transformation of Spalding Park gets underway today

CHAMPAIGN — Construction is set to start today on work that will transform Spalding Park to, in part, serve the needs of Champaign schools.

The work is a joint project by the Champaign Park District and the Unit 4 school district after the boards of both government bodies approved an intergovernmental agreement.

"We are real excited about this project," said park district Executive Director Joe DeLuce. "This will improve the quality of the park, not only for the students, but also for the entire community."

The project will include the renovation of a practice baseball field and the construction of a new competition baseball field, to be used by the Central High and Franklin Middle School teams.

The competition baseball field will be fully fenced with a synthetic turf infield. It will have dugouts and bullpens for both home and visiting teams. The field will be fully lighted, and batting cages and security cameras will be installed. Bleachers will seat 200 people.

A basketball court with LED lighting will also be built at Spalding — as will a new system of pathways at the park that will feature improved lighting, and new playground structure.

According to park district marketing director Chelsea Norton, once construction gets underway today, all the water fountains at the park will be turned off, as will the lights at the existing basketball and tennis courts.

Fences will be erected around the baseball field and basketball courts.

The entire project is expected to be finished by the spring of 2019, according to Unit 4 communications director Emily Schmit.

While the basketball courts will not be available for use during the project, Norton said the tennis courts, playground, skate park and picnic shelter will all stay open most of the time. Some temporary closings are anticipated.

A groundbreaking ceremony for the project is set for 1:30 p.m. Thursday.