Nike pledges $5 million for Obama Center athletic/conference building

A revised draft report on the “Assessment of Effects” of the Obama Center in Jackson Park will be posted by the city of Chicago on Thursday.

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The athletic/conference center proposed for the Obama Presidential Center is the rectangle building on the bottom left in this rendering.

The athletic/conference center proposed for the Obama Presidential Center is the rectangle building on the bottom left in this rendering.

Obama Foundation

WASHINGTON – While groundbreaking for the Obama Presidential Center has stalled due to a long-running federal review of the project in Jackson Park, fundraising continued Tuesday with Nike pledging $5 million towards construction of an athletic/conference center on the campus.

A revised draft report on the “Assessment of Effects” of the Obama Center will be posted by the city of Chicago on Thursday, with the parties involved invited to a briefing webinar on Jan. 23.

On the fundraising front, Jorge Casimiro, Nike’s chief social and community impact officer and Nike Foundation president, said in a statement, “When President Obama’s Presidential Center opens its doors, it will be the first to include a public athletic facility — made possible in part by a $5 million contribution from the Nike Foundation.”

The combined athletic and activity center is one of four buildings proposed for the 19.3 acre campus. The combo building is to be sited along Stony Island near East 62nd Street. The facility will be run by the Obama Foundation, not the Chicago Park District.

The Obama Foundation will include the Nike pledge when posting fundraising results for the fourth quarter of 2019 on Wednesday. While the foundation usually declines to list specific amounts of pledges — or for what projects the funds are earmarked for — Nike, as the donor, was free to make the announcement with the specifics.

The federal review has been ongoing for more than two years. The Chicago Sun-Times reported in October that the foundation has given up on providing estimated groundbreaking dates.

Obama Foundation planners — and the city of Chicago — at first did not take into account in their timetable that the federal review could take years. The review is necessary because Jackson Park, designed by the famed landscape architects Frederick Law Olmsted and Calvert Vaux, was listed on the National Register of Historic Places in 1972.

Afederal lawsuit seeking to block construction of the Obama Center in Jackson Park was unsuccessful in lower court and is on appeal, with oral arguments before a Seventh Circuit panel likely this March or April.

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