The Larry Fink Memorial Park baseball field needed a change and will get more than one thanks to a December decision by the Highland Park Park Board.
As part of a $1 million renovation, commissioners approved a donor agreement that gives the ballfield the name Jeff Fox Field, whose family donated $300,000 to the project.
The field will be transformed and fitted with a synthetic turf infield, according to park documents, as well as improved scoreboard, warning track, dugouts, fencing, bleachers and more.
The turf will more than triple the number of hours the field can be played on each year, according to the Park District of Highland Park. Synthetic turf reportedly will also reduce maintenance costs by more than 50 percent over the course of the turf’s 10-year lifespan.
Jeff Fox raised his children — Corey, Ryan and Lisa — across the street from Larry Fink Park and they all were regulars on the playgrounds and ballfield. Decades later, Corey’s and Lisa’s children play at Highland Park parks, and their grandfather, Jeff, enjoyed joining them up until his death in 2021, according to the park district.
Corey Fox led an effort for the family to get involved in the renovation of Larry Fink Park, and Ryan Fox told the park district, “Dad might not have agreed to have a field named after him, but he loved what this particular field meant to him. Togetherness, family, having fun, making friends, and community.”
According to the donation agreement, the contribution will be given in two equal installments and naming rights carry an initial term of 15 with the opportunity for up to 10 renewals.
The Fox family’s donation is the bulk of a $500,000 fundraising goal from the community. Community members created the Giants Athletic Boosters, an affiliate of the Parks Foundation of Highland Park. The Giants Boosters has raised $453,000 for the project and still need to raise $47,000 to reach their goal.
The park district is funding half of the project with money from its capital fund.
Larry Fink Memorial Park, 1377 Deer Creek Parkway, earned its namesake in 1980 thanks to a donation from the family of Larry Fink, who died in a plane crash in 1979. The park debuted in 1963 as Deer Creek Park. Across its 70-plus acres, the park features a basketball court, tennis court, dog park, disc golf, a ballfield, playground equipment and walking paths
The renovation is part of a larger park district plan to renovate other athletic fields, Danny Cunniff Park and Sunset Woods Park.
The groundbreaking and dedication for the new field is scheduled for spring 2024, with completion expected in summer 2024.
In a statement, the park district said, “All of us at your park district thank the Fox family and their supporters for their commitment, and we’re grateful to everyone supporting this important ballfield renovation. You are a big part of what makes this a great community.”
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