PULLMAN — The Pullman Community Center, the neighborhood’s hulking sports epicenter that hosts some 10,000 visitors a month, is closed because of the coronavirus and will follow the lead of the Chicago Public Schools when it comes to reopening, officials said.
Since its grand opening in 2018, the Community Center at 10355 S. Woodlawn Ave. has become a key part of recreation and team practices in the area. It’s also served since January as the Midwest headquarters for the Amateur Athletic Union.
But, like most other large sports facilities around the country, it’s now closed to help prevent the spread of the coronavirus. Kristen D. Curtis, general manager of the center, said the decision to close was difficult but necessary for the safety of the 10,000 per who visit or work their each week.
“We don’t want to play any part in spreading the virus and I don’t want it to be the place that is allowing you to come in and spreads germs,” said Curtis. “If that happens, for us to be able to clean the facility it would cost us thousands and thousands of dollars.”
The Pullman Community Center does not receive city, state or federal funding for operations; they rely on rentals, all of which have been canceled for now.
Cancelations include Chicago State University’s soccer and basketball team’s time, Gwendolyn Brooks’ basketball team, the Pullman Ballers and all youth programming.
“We have teams that do weekly rentals. We have field trips with more than 200 kids and it can be a lot of people in one day,” said Curtis.
Curtis said that the impact on their revenue stream would make it difficult to cover monthly costs such as the electricity bill which typically costs $77,000 per month.
“With the facility being 135,000 square feet plus, to turn the heat on and turn the lights on would cost us more money than we would make,” said Curtis.
Being the midwest headquarters for the AAU, the center was in the process of transforming its turf fields into a 12-court facility for the upcoming regional and national volleyball and basketball tournaments between April and October, which will now be pushed back until May.
“For about 700,000 members throughout the country, we are their Midwest headquarters,” said Curtis. “These tournaments are a revenue stream for us and we’ve put everything on hold and people are canceling and changing dates.”
The Community Center will follow Chicago Public Schools’ schedule and is hoping to open by April 21, according to Curtis.
“It’s difficult for us and I’m trying to figure out payroll to continue paying our people, but with us not having a revenue stream while we’re gone, there is only so long that we are going to be able to do that,” said Curtis.