IMD allocates land to Special Olympics and CAN-TV
June 6, 2014
Special Olympics Chicago has plans for 12 acres within the Illinois Medical District that include a stadium, a field, and a fieldhouse. (Courtesy Perkins + Will)

The Illinois Medical District Commission (IMDC) voted on May 20 in favor of allocating 12 acres of district property located at South Wood and West 14th Streets to Special Olympics Chicago (SOC) for a $30 million, permanent, year round athletic complex.

It also voted to approve the relocation of CAN-TV, which administers Chicago’s public access television channels, to the district. SOC presented renderings to the IMDC for the project, which includes a 2,800-seat stadium, a 63,000-square-foot field house with administrative offices, and a four-acre multipurpose field.

“This facility would help preserve the rich legacy of Special Olympics in Chicago and would be transformational for the local organization,” said Governor Pat Quinn. “Operating year-round, the facility would serve Special Olympic athletes and area children and adults with intellectual disabilities as well as disabled veterans and people with physical disabilities.”

“This project is a win-win for Special Olympics Chicago and the Illinois Medical District,” added Warren Ribley, IMDC executive director. “It exemplifies one of our core objectives–the expansion of social services that assure the health and well-being of Illinoisans with special needs.”

The first international Special Olympics games were held July 20, 1968, in Chicago. Since then, SOC has grown to serve more than 5,000 athletes, offering year-round sports training and competition in 22 sports.

The IMD offers a central location for SOC athletes and their families, who currently travel to numerous Chicago Park District facilities around the region for athletic training and competitions.

“One of our organization’s top expenses is transportation,” said SOC president Casey Hogan. “The Illinois Medical District offers our athletes, families, partners, and supporters an ideal location, easily accessible by public and private transportation.”

SOC plans to raise funds through a public/private partnership that will include Chicago area corporations and philanthropic organizations. SOC also will seek funds from City, State, and Federal government. The Chicago Park District will own and operate the facility.

CAN-TV, currently located in Greektown, will occupy 25,000 to 30,000 square feet within the district. “It will likely be in the southern part of the district between Washburne and 13th Streets,” said Heather Tarczan, spokesperson for the IMDC. Workers will construct studios, editing suites, training space, and offices for the organization, which counts 24 fulltime and 14 part-time employees.

“We are excited to be considered as part of the visionary development of the Illinois Medical District,” said CAN-TV executive director Barbara Popovic. “This opens the possibility for CAN-TV to have a stable home in a central location convenient for CAN-TV clients citywide, while offering the potential to collaborate with neighboring social service and health organizations.”

For more information, call the IMD at (312) 738-5800.