Hicks Park CroppedROCKFORD - State Senator Steve Stadelman today applauded the announcement of $2.8 million in state funding for improvements at Clarence Hicks Memorial Sports Park as a smart investment in an economically disadvantaged neighborhood and positive youth development.

The grant from the Illinois Department of Natural Resources follows $600,000 previously secured by Stadelman toward a $7 million upgrade in the outdoor athletics facility on Rockford's southwest side. When upgrades are complete, Hicks Park will feature an artificial turf playing field and stadium with eight-lane running track and bleacher seating for 1,000 spectators, among other amenities.

"With this investment of state resources, an under-utilized facility will become a major regional attraction," Stadelman said. "To flourish as a community, we must rescue impoverished neighborhoods -- and this project not only provides valuable physical assets but also a place for expanded sports programming that will strengthen the minds and bodies of girls and boys who are key to a prosperous future."

The 77-acre park at 2004 Ogilby Road is currently home to athletic programs including NFL flag football, NFL cheer, FIRE track and field, Wolves youth football and Chicago Bears Outreach Camp. Last year, the Bears donated artificial turf from the Walter Payton Center at Halas Hall to create a future warmup area as part of the $7 million upgrade.