49th Ward Alderman Joe Moore has announced his support of Loyola University’s proposal to build an athletic practice facility on campus at the southwest corner of Loyola and Winthrop Avenues.
According to Moore’s statement on his website, the athletic training facility would help Loyola’s basketball and volleyball teams remain competitive with other universities.
The construction of the three-story building, which would stand between Mertz Hall and the jogging track and field, would begin this spring. The current driveway would move to the east side of the building, and the jogging track and field would be shortened.
No on-street parking would be lost.
The proposed development is allowed under the existing zoning laws but needs to be reviewed due to its location within the Lakefront Protection Zone.
The building also needs approval by the Chicago Plan Commission, a group that bestows the final judgement and considers the opinions of the local alderman and residents.
The 49th Ward Zoning and Land Use Advisory Committee recommended that Moore support the development with a unanimous vote. Moore gave four reasons for supporting the building:
- The development is allowed under the current zoning and will have no adverse effects on the lakefront.
- The building’s “handsome design” will complement the Gentile Arena and other “attractive” campus buildings.
- The building will have minimal impact on the surrounding community.
- The new athletic practice center will maintain Loyola’s competitiveness in recruiting student athletes.
“The university and Rogers Park are inextricably linked. The growing academic and athletic reputation of Loyola University helps the university maintain and enhance the quantity and quality of its student enrollment, which can only have a beneficial effect on Rogers Park,” Moore writes on his website.
To address residents’ concerns about the development’s traffic impact and the unregulated use of the nearby driveway, Moore has asked Loyola to limit the number of vehicles in the driveway.
The alderman answered other neighbors’ concerns about the proposed building’s shadow on their properties by revealing Loyola’s “sun study” findings that the facility would have a minimal shadow impact.
Moore held a December community meeting on the proposal, where he heard both support and disapproval from different residents. Many Loyola students opposed the athletic practice center, demanding the university to spend money on other priorities. According to Loyola’s representatives, however, most of the development’s cost would be covered by an outside donation made specifically for an athletic center.
Not everyone supports the new building.
According to the Loyola Phoenix, Students for Reproductive Justice (SRJ) and Loyola Young Democratic Socialists (LYDS) along with other students held a protest on Feb. 24 against the university’s funding of the athletic facility.
“Loyola is spending $2 million of tuition dollars towards the facility that a very small percentage of the student body can use, especially when there are so many other areas that need funding,” says SRJ member Grace Rock.
While some students are voicing their protest, others support the proposal. According to Loyola Track athlete Hayley Braun, volleyball and basketball teams practice in Gentile Arena and Halas Gym, which takes the courts from non-athletes and causes collisions with other athletes.
“We are a division one school that competes at the highest level with a lack of facilities – just imagine what can happen when the facilities are there,” says Braun.