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Lillian and Larry Goodman Center, Chicago

Roosevelt breaks ground for Loop Field House

Posted: 12/15/2011

By Laura Janota | From the Fall 2011 issue of Roosevelt Review

More than 200 people attended a groundbreaking in July for the Lillian and Larry Goodman Center, the two-story field house that will be the home of Roosevelt’s athletics program and its intramural and recreational activities.

Roosevelt faculty, students, administrators, trustees, athletes and their families as well as a number of political dignitaries saluted Larry Goodman, a lifelong Chicagoan, entrepreneur and sports enthusiast for the $3 million lead gift that is making the project possible.

“I want to thank Larry Goodman for his generous gift, which is one of the largest individual gifts in the history of Roosevelt,” said Roosevelt President Chuck Middleton. “Roosevelt University is pleased that the field house will be named after Larry and his late wife, Lillian, who have made a difference in the quality of life in our community through their many years of philanthropy. In addition to athletics, we plan to use the Lillian and Larry Goodman Center as a gathering space for all students. It will enhance recreational, social and student life activities at Roosevelt.”

When it opens for the 2012-13 academic year, the field house will be located at one of Chicago’s most prominent intersections, the southeast corner of Congress Parkway and Wabash Avenue, across the street from the University’s Auditorium Building in the South Loop. It will contain a multi-purpose gymnasium on the second floor, which will be used for numerous Roosevelt activities in addition to being the practice and competition home for the Roosevelt Lakers men’s and women’s basketball and women’s volleyball teams.

“I am proud and honored to be a partner with Roosevelt University,” Goodman said. “The Lillian and Larry Goodman Center is a wonderful opportunity to support Roosevelt University and the city of Chicago.”

Chicago Alderman Robert Fioretti, State Sen. Kwame Raoul and State Rep. Kimberly duBuclet spoke at the groundbreaking and each noted that the field house would be a significant addition to the University and the South Loop community. “I’m happy to see that this kind of investment is being made not only in the University but also in our great city,” Raoul said.

The field house will have retractable bleachers that can be rolled out at the gym to provide seating for approximately 500 people. When not being used in this capacity, the gym can be segmented and utilized for programming space for varying intramural and recreational activities. In addition, on the first floor of the Lillian and Larry Goodman Center, there will be administrative offices for athletic department staff, a varsity athletics strength and conditioning center, athletic training room, team meeting rooms, student lounge and locker rooms.

Roosevelt athletics director Mike Cassidy, who joined the University in 2009 to reinstate intercollegiate athletics for men after a 21-year absence and to start an athletics program for women for the first time, said the field house is making his vision a reality.

“The only thing better than being in this is being part of something that’s bigger than yourself,” said Lakers basketball star Ray Lichter, the first athlete to join the University when it reinstated athletics last year. “Everyone here today is a pioneer in their own right,” he added.

Roosevelt University trustees Charles Gardner, Bruce Bachmann and Alan Schwartz also were recognized, as spaces in the field house will be named after them. Designed by architect Solomon Cordwell Buenz, the center will be built by Power Construction. In addition, the field house will be a LEED-certified facility.

Goodman chose to fund the project because of the support the Chicago community gave him during his early days of business as a merchandiser and community discount store entrepreneur. He founded the Lillian and Larry Goodman Foundations in 1994. Focusing philanthropic efforts on teen drug abuse prevention, hunger issues, Jewish overnight camps, organizations in Israel and various charities in Chicago and around the world, Goodman knew his personal mission was perfectly aligned with that of the University when he learned about the work of the University’s Illinois Consortium on Drug Policy.

As a result, the Cebrin Goodman Center, which is committed to effective teen drug prevention efforts, will be working with the University to create an annual award distinguishing a Chicagoan for his/her work in the area of substance abuse prevention.