Champaign Park District Partners with City of Champaign on Douglass Park Ballfield Improvements

Joint news release from the City of Champaign and the Champaign Park District

On Tuesday, June 20, 2023, the Champaign City Council will consider a proposed $400,000 grant agreement to assist in funding improvements to the Douglass Park ballfields, including the addition of a concession stand and restrooms. The agreement was approved by the Champaign Park Board of Commissioners on Wednesday, June 14.

The Champaign Park District previously applied for grant funding through the IDNR OSLAD program for a matching grant to be used for improvements to Douglass Park including restrooms, a concession facility, new ballfield, and drainage improvements to the two existing fields. The grant request for $400,000 included a required equal match from the Park District. The Park District did not receive the grant and has since explored other options to cover the requested grant amount of $400,000 that were denied.

“The importance of Douglass Park and its facilities cannot be overstated; it is a nexus of multi-generational art, culture, and recreation,” said Sarah Sandquist, Champaign Park District Executive Director. “We are grateful to our donors and partners who can bring impactful projects like this to our community.”

This past spring, a conversation with the City of Champaign lead to a new partnership opportunity on the project. The Douglass Ballfield Improvements align with several City initiatives, including enhancing recreational opportunities for youth and addressing food insecurity. Additionally, recent City and Park District improvement partnerships throughout the community (i.e., Bristol, Glenn, and Skelton Parks) have been well received and have demonstrated that pooled resources multiply possibilities.

If approved by the City Council, $400,000 of the City’s American Rescue Plan Act (ARPA) funding would be allocated to the Champaign Park District to assist with this transformative project. If the subrecipient agreement is approved, work on the ballpark improvements could begin as early as fall 2023.

The Park District is responsible for funding the entire project up front, estimated at $1.1 million in improvements to Douglass Park, with $400,000 reimbursement from the City of Champaign and $300,000 already received from an anonymous donor. The remaining $400,000 will be paid by Champaign Park District’s Capital Improvement Plan.