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Knute Rockne Stadium Won’t Be Ready For Fall Sports After Renovation Delayed By Work Stoppage At Illinois Quarries

The CPS-owned stadium in Austin is getting a new track and turf field as part of a multi-year overhaul. But the work stoppage means it won't be ready by fall.

A rendering of the updated Rockne Stadium.
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AUSTIN — A West Side stadium used by Chicago Public Schools to host athletic events will remain closed for renovations through the end of the year, despite earlier plans to reopen by fall for the start of the school year.

Knute Rockne Stadium at 1117 S. Central Ave. typically hosts football, soccer and flag football events in the fall. All events scheduled for Rockne Stadium will be relocated to another of the school district’s stadiums, a spokesperson for Chicago Public Schools said in a statement.

Rockne Stadium is undergoing the first phase of a $10.7 million upgrade that will modernize the facility. Phase one of the project will lay down a turf field and install an eight-lane track. The next phase, slated to begin in 2023, will renovate the locker rooms, bathrooms, stadium lighting and parking lot.

Though the track and turf field were expected to be completed by fall, construction has been delayed by a statewide work stoppage and cement worker strike. The strike has impacted construction projects all across the state, a district spokesperson said.

The strike was organized by International Union of Operating Engineers Local 150 in protest of low wages, safety issues and unfair labor practices. The strike involves around 300 workers at several quarries around the Chicago area.

 “These workers demand to have their rights, their health and their safety protected at work,” Local 150 President James Sweeney said in a statement.

Rockne Stadium is dedicated to elementary through high school athletics programs, and it is also heavily used for summer sports. Each of the six Chicago Public School District’s stadiums across the city hosts around 1,000 games each year.

Rockne Stadium was long overdue for an upgrade, said David Rosengard, executive director of sports administration for the district.

“It’s dingy. It needs a lot of work, which it’s getting,” Rosengard said. “I want our student-athletes to come in there with a sense of pride.”

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