The plan to create a sports complex named after former first lady Michelle Obama at the Whitney Young Magnet High School has finally come to fruition. According to the Chicago Sun-Times, the school unveiled the new mixed-use sports facility during a block party celebration earlier this month.
The school—where Obama graduated from 38 years ago—needed a restored sports facility. Several of the teams had not played home games there for over two years and were forced to practice and compete at other schools because the field wasn’t in good condition. The situation caused a lack of fan engagement. The plan for the new complex, which has been six years in the making, was approved by the City Council in 2017.
Dubbed the Michelle Obama Athletic Complex, the facility will not only be utilized by the students but individuals from the local community as well. The $4.3 million complex features a track and baseball and football fields with newly installed artificial turf, seats, lighting, scoreboards, and a water fountain. During the ribbon-cutting ceremony, a special video message from Obama was shared. “To have my name on this incredible athletic complex is such an honor, and I just want to say thank you,” she said. The ceremony was historic as it marks the first time that a public facility in the city was named after a former first lady.
Joyce Kenner, who serves as the principal of the Whitney Young Magnet High School, says it was fitting to name the complex after Obama in honor of the work that she’s done surrounding the importance of exercise and healthy eating through her “Let’s Move!” initiative. “She’s very concerned about physical fitness for everyone, not just your top athletes,” she said in a statement. “When people drive by and see the sign on the field they will always remember her contribution and her husband’s contribution to our world.”