Amateur Athletic Union names Pullman center its Midwest base

The agreement promises to attract visitors to the South Side for an array of events and programs.

SHARE Amateur Athletic Union names Pullman center its Midwest base
A basketball court at the Pullman Community Center.

A basketball court at the Pullman Community Center.

Chicago Neighborhood Initiatives

The Amateur Athletic Union, which sponsors events in 45 sports across the U.S. and Canada, said Tuesday it has designated the Pullman Community Center as its Midwest headquarters, promising events and programs that will draw visitors and jobs to the South Side community.

The AAU said it will work with the Chicago Sports Alliance, its largest licensed event operator, to schedule tournaments, leagues and year-round programs at the center, 10355 S. Woodlawn Ave.

The property is part of the old Ryerson Steel site that nonprofit developer Chicago Neighborhood Initiatives has turned into a business and community hub. On Monday, Ald. Anthony Beale (9th) said Amazon plans to build a shipping location next door to the Pullman Community Center, although a company source said there is no final deal.

Jo Mirza, AAU national treasurer, said the center will be part of an AAU campaign to increase sports participation among youths who face socio-economic or other hardships.

“This is going to be the sports center of the Midwest,” he said. The facility is ideal for the AAU because it is well-equipped and accessible to groups coming from neighboring states, he said.

Jo_Mirza.jpg

Jo Mirza, Amateur Athletic Unions national treasurer

Amateur Athletic Union

“It’s an amazing facility and will be the model for future programs like this in amateur sports. The place is just fertile ground for growth,” Mirza said.

At 135,000 square feet, the center has three hardwood courts and turf fields for indoor play. But under the agreement with AAU, it will have 12 basketball courts that convert to 24 volleyball courts for events starting later this year.

The agreement stipulates the AAU will hold its Midwest Championship basketball tournament and other recurring events in Pullman.

Although it is called a Midwest headquarters, there is no permanent job estimate attached to the agreement. The AAU largely operates through volunteer organizations that run the individual sports.

But Mirza said the development is a positive sign for the neighborhood’s economy, as it will attract visitors.

Beale echoed that theme in a statement. “We’re terribly excited because the PCC continues to demonstrate that it not only can be a state-of-the-art athletic facility providing a safe and nurturing environment,but it can also be an engine for economic development and opportunities that are essential to building a strong, sustainable community,” he said.

Chicago Neighborhood Initiatives has said it intends to develop a hotel on the Pullman site to serve the athletic center and surrounding businesses, such as Method Home Products, two Gotham Greens produce greenhouses and a Whole Foods Midwest Distribution Center. The hotel also could serve Pullman’s National Historic Monument site and Porter Museum.

It’s expected the AAU’s sponsors and former stars now in the NBA and WNBA will offer camps and clinics at the center. One player the AAU said will be involved is Gabby Williams of the WNBA’s Chicago Sky.

The Latest
Tiger Woods winced his way to a 4-over 74 on the same course where he won the 2009 PGA.
The 21-year-old went into the water with friends about 8:10 p.m. in the 9800 block of South Walton Drive, Chicago police said.
Cubs right-hander Marcus Stroman held the Diamondbacks to two earned runs in five innings.
With crime among the top concerns of a vocal contingent of neighbors vehemently opposed to the development, the $2 million is meant to bolster security around the temporary site at a River North intersection that already has entrenched crime issues, opposing Ald. Brendan Reilly (42nd) has said.
A U.S. Census Bureau report released Thursday shows rather than losing population, Illinois gained more than 250,000 residents between 2010 and 2020. That’s roughly the equivalent of not counting anyone in Aurora — Illinois’ second largest city — and the entire city of Decatur.