In a project that is expected to bring jobs and visitors to Chicago’s Far South Side, Alderman Anthony Beale, 9th Ward, today joined with the Amateur Athletic Union (AAU) and Chicago Sports Alliance, the AAU’s largest licensed event operator to announce it has designated the Pullman Community Center (PCC) as their new Midwest Headquarters. Chicago Sports Alliance will organize and operate tournaments, leagues, clinics and new year-round programs that will attract athletes and spectators from the community, neighboring areas and several Midwest states.
The agreement between the nation’s largest amateur sports organization and PCC, the region’s largest indoor sports facility, stipulates that for the first-time the AAU Midwest Championship basketball tournament and other licensed AAU sporting events for thousands of young people will be held in the historic Pullman neighborhood.
The AAU has also committed to provide equipment in the Midwest that can be used by licensed AAU event operators to expand their events into convention centers and other large venues.
“AAU and Chicago Sports Alliance will invest in Chicago’s youth sports programs to make their dreams come true while helping to make the PCC and its community a greater destination where more people will continue to go to live, work and to play,” said Dr. Roger J. Goudy, the President & CEO of the AAU.
The agreement is the result of months of talks between AAU National Treasurer and Central AAU (Illinois) Governor Jo Mirza, a native of Chicago, and Alderman Beale to introduce AAU programming into the historic Pullman area of Chicago and will fall under the AAU Urban / County Initiative. The program, started in 2015 and led by Mr. Mirza, aims to provide increased AAU participation opportunities to youth who otherwise would not be able to play organized sports due to socio-economic or other hardships.
“I am honored to be able to help in the continued revitalization of the Pullman neighborhood,” said Jo Mirza, National Treasurer of the AAU. “There is no greater joy then seeing the youth in my hometown of Chicago benefiting from this great facility while participating in AAU sports.”
In addition to organizing and operating year-round tournaments and new programs at the 135,000 square foot PCC at 10355 South Woodlawn Avenue, Chicago Sports Alliance will provide all-wood indoor basketball courts. The facility will have 12 basketball courts to convert to 24 volleyball courts to be used for events beginning in 2020.
In addition to the tournaments, they will work with its current roster of sponsors and former AAU stars in the NBA and WNBA to offer camps and clinics for the community at the PCC. One such player is the WNBA Chicago Sky’s Gabby Williams, a longtime AAU alumna. They will also bring scores of coaches, officials and administrators to the PCC to help run the programs. The AAU Midwest Championship and other tournaments will draw teams from neighboring, OH, IN, IA, and WI as well as throughout all of IL. Licensed AAU event operators will also have the opportunity to use the facility to host their own AAU events.
The agreement to host the additional sports programs at the PCC is expected to have a multi-million dollar impact on the area. In other metropolitan areas, cities working with this group in areas such as Reno, Las Vegas and Utah have generated estimated combined economic impact to be nearly $20 million a year. The AAU Pacific Rim basketball tournament in Honolulu, HI that attracts 132 teams, 1,600 athletes and 10,000 spectators, generates a half-million dollars in just two-days, according to Chicago Sports Alliance.
“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,” said Alderman Beale.
The Chicago Neighborhood Initiatives also have announced plans to attract and develop a major new hotel to accommodate the influx of athletes and visitors expected to be descending upon the PCC. Chicago Neighborhood Initiatives is a nonprofit community developer that has worked with public and private entities to generate $350 million of investment for new residential and commercial developments in Pullman, including the PCC. A new hotel would also serve the neighborhood’s other attractions, including the National Historic Monument site and Porter Museum as well its new businesses, including: Method Home Products; two Gotham Greens facilities; One Eleven Food Hall, the city’s first and only food hall on the Far South Side; a Whole Foods Midwest Distribution Center that have recently expanded and located to Pullman, creating more than 1,500 jobs.
“Every way you look at it, the PCC is providing people with the tools and skills they need to meet future challenges and be successful,” added Alderman Beale. “With today’s news, we expect the impact that the PCC will be having on the people and the community will be tremendous.”
Founded in 1888, the AAU is one of the largest, non-profit, volunteer, multi-sport event organizations in the world with more than 700,000 members across 45 sports programs, 55 U.S. districts and Canada. Chicago Sports Alliance has gained recognition with the “All Under One Roof” event model and operating a series of sports tournaments in Hawaii, California, Arizona and Nevada.