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Machester City, UAE partner with Pritzkers for new Logan Park soccer field

 Workers put finishing touches new soccer field Haas Park this result generosity Embassy United Arab Emirates United States Manchester

Workers put the finishing touches on a new soccer field at Haas Park that is the result of the generosity of the Embassy of the United Arab Emirates in the United States and Manchester City Football Club. Built in partnership with the Pritzker Traubert Family Foundation's "Take the Field Initiative" and the Chicago Park District, the field will benefit all of Logan Square. | Al Podgorski~Chicago Sun-Times

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Updated: November 12, 2012 11:56AM

An English football club, the United Arab Emirates Embassy, and one of Chicago’s more philanthropic families have kicked in to give the city’s Logan Square neighborhood a gift: a new, artificial turf soccer field.

The Manchester City Football Club, crosstown rivals of the better known global sensation Manchester United, along with the UAE embassy and the Pritzker Traubert Family Foundation have kicked in $500,000 for the field, with the city paying $100,000 for the lights, at Haas Park, 2402 N. Washtenaw.

Officials will be on hand Thursday to christen the field which experts say measures 60 yards by 40 yards — roughly two-thirds the size of a professional regulation field.

Backers say Mother Nature and well-used dirt and grass fields aren’t the best match in Chicago, so artificial turf is the best alternative.

“It only takes a good rain on an active playing field and it’s trashed — it’s rocks and dirt and mud and the answer in a climate like this is an artificial turf field makes sense,” said Bryan Traubert, whose wife is Penny Prtizker and together they’re behind the Pritzker Traubert Family Foundation. “This is an answer to a problem,” he told the Sun-Times Wednesday.

Traubert is also president of the park district board of commissioners; the field is on park district land.

He points out that neighbors in the area pushed hard for a new field house, and after acquiring abandoned property next door, the soccer field went in.

The field’s drainage system and artificial turf “carpet’ mean that the field is usable year-round — and “within 5 minutes of a downpour,” Traubert said.

The life of the artificial turf field, experts say, is just over a decade.

Traubert’s family foundation offered up $5 million to install soccer fields in some of Chicago’s neediest neighborhoods on the South and West sides. When Traubert told a friend he was looking for partners to help fund the projects, that led him to a program known as City Soccer in the Community, a partnership between the UAE embassy to the United States and Manchester City, the football club owned by a member of the Abu Dhabi royal family.

Taking advantage of an exploding interest in European soccer — while trying to help struggling neighborhoods in some of the largest cities in America — City Soccer has already built fields in Miami, East L.A. and even a rooftop field in New York’s Harlem neighborhood.

“We have a philosophy of giving back to the community — America is a great, up-and-coming soccer market, but first we want to give back,” said Gary Hopkins, head of Manchester City’s international development team in the United States. He said that Manchester City will be providing three years of soccer programming, including training and bringing in coaches to work with kids interested in the game.

Hopkins is also author of Star Spangled Soccer: Selling, Marketing and Management of Soccer in the USA and says that interest in soccer among Americans took off after Chicago hosted the 1994 World Cup.

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