BY MARK SCHAAF
After a tremendously successful first season of the SC Johnson Community Aquatic Center, Racine County’s Pritchard Park became a destination for residents, families and visitors throughout the region.
But with another exciting announcement this fall, it’s clear the transformation of Pritchard Park is only just beginning.
Racine County and the Racine Unified School District announced in October that each entity would contribute $3 million toward Phase 2 of the SC Johnson Community Sports Complex at Pritchard Park. Racine County’s contribution includes previously-budgeted funds for the park, while RUSD is using money from its community fund, which must be allocated for community-wide purposes and projects beyond the district schools.
The overall vision of the park includes a state-of-the-art multipurpose turf stadium, plaza and concessions, and a varsity baseball field and varsity softball field. Construction on the multipurpose stadium is expected to begin this spring.
For years, Racine County has lacked quality sports facilities that other communities enjoy. County Executive Jonathan Delagrave first proposed funding a community sports complex at Pritchard Park in the 2017 county budget, and preliminary design plans were drawn up. But just months later, SC Johnson donated an incredible $6.5 million for a beautiful aquatic center, and the county’s attention turned toward that project – and rightfully so.
But Racine County never lost sight of the original vision. And neither did the Racine Unified School District. A partnership culminated with an announcement in Delagrave’s annual budget address on Oct. 9.
“This partnership with Racine Unified is a game-changer for our community,” the County Executive said in a news release announcing the project, adding the complex will be open to all area schools and teams. “For too long, the Racine area has lacked adequate facilities for youth and high school sports. Together with RUSD, we are providing our children and families with state-of-the-art amenities and continuing to transform Pritchard Park into a destination for all.”
Although this $6 million investment is enough to get started on the construction of the next phase of the sports complex, the county will continue to seek sponsorships from corporate partners, foundations, youth sports organizations, other area schools and the public. The intention is to make this project a true community asset, and optimism is high that other partners will step forward to contribute in the coming months.
And as new amenities are added, Pritchard Park’s environmental integrity will not only be maintained, but improved. Racine County’s strong relationships with Root-Pike WIN and other groups helped spur upgrades including enhanced natural areas and restored wetlands — making the park a better overall experience for residents and visitors.
“I believe this project is representative of how taxpayers expect our government to leverage our dollars to the greatest advantage to address both the challenges and opportunities within our communities,” Delagrave said in his address. “I am very proud of this partnership with RUSD and will continue to work to create fiscally responsible, successful and winning collaborations in the future.”
Mark Schaaf is the communications manager for Racine County.