Oak Lawn Park Selected to Receive $345,000 Tourism Attractions and Festivals Grant

Oak Lawn Park Selected to Receive $345,000 Tourism Attractions and Festivals Grant

Published 4/10/2023

Oak Lawn Park District today announced that it has been selected to receive a $345,000 grant from the Tourism Attractions and Festivals Grant Program from the Illinois Department of Commerce and Economic Opportunity (DCEO) as part of a $22.5 million investment for nearly 90 local tourism festivals and attractions across Illinois.

“This grant is a big victory for not just Oak Lawn Park District but for the Village of Oak Lawn,” said Tom Hartwig, executive director. “We are excited to be able to provide these improvements that will allow Centennial Park to become the epicenter of competitive softball and volleyball for years to come.”

The grant will help fund the Centennial Park Improvement Project that will include the following features:

  •  Shade structures at the existing players benches at the four softball fields
  • Three (3) shade structures in the plaza for spectators 
  • Two (2) warning tracks, outfield fences, and nets on south fields
  •  Shade at the sand volleyball court 
  •  Two (2) lawn volleyball courts

Through feedback from patrons and conducting extensive research, these improvements were identified to fill the need that Centennial Park was lacking to attract large-scale softball tournaments. With these needs now fulfilled, Oak Lawn Park District will be able to attract additional high-level softball and volleyball tournaments on a regional level.  These tournaments, that can be up to multiple days in length, will provide an economic boost to Oak Lawn with added foot traffic to restaurants, shopping centers, and hotel stays.  

“We strive to be good stewards of the taxpayer dollar and securing this grant is a great example of that,” said Hartwig. “The funds will cover nearly half the project and provides an opportunity for additional revenue streams to the District, which we’re very proud of and excited for.”

The total scope of the project will cost around $730,000 and the grant will cover $345,000 of that cost. Construction of the project is anticipated to begin this fall and to be completed in the Spring of 2024.

Centennial Park (93rd & Nashville Ave.) is a 38-acre community park that in 2017 was part of a successful Illinois Department of Natural Resources (IDNR) Open Space Land Acquisition and Development Grant (OSLAD), that added comfort amenities like a concession stand with bathrooms along with new LED lighting to the facility.

The $22.5 million in Illinois Tourism Attractions and Festivals grants provides funding to localities, organizations, and businesses for a broad range of tourism-related improvements, events, and activities. This builds upon $10 million in funding through the first round of the grant program in 2022 that provided to 40 localities across the state. Combined with Illinois' largest-ever tourism campaign, ‘Middle of Everything,' Illinois is prioritizing investing in its thriving tourism industry while driving millions of visitors to choose Illinois for their next trip.

Through the $22.5 million investment, $5 million was reserved for festivals, which serve as economic drivers while bringing communities together, and $17.5 million is supporting a broad range of other tourism-related projects such as attractions, museums, live performance venues, and more. Oak Lawn Park District’s application was selected for an award through a competitive process, which required demonstrating how the award would help businesses in the surrounding area, as well as the project's ability to attract visitors for overnight stays.

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