Skating ribbon, play garden, climbing features are now open to the public

December 13, 2014

Mayor's Press Office

Mayor Rahm Emanuel, Chicago Park District General Superintendent and CEO Michael Kelly, members of the Daley family and community leaders today cut the ribbon on the highly anticipated Maggie Daley Park in the heart of downtown Chicago.

"Children from neighborhoods across the City were touched by Maggie Daley through After School Matters and her love of the City; through this park, Maggie's legacy will continue to touch the lives of children from every corner of Chicago," said Mayor Emanuel. "This new jewel on Chicago's lakefront is just the latest example of the investments we're making in parks, playgrounds and recreational spaces in neighborhoods across the City to create a richer quality of life for all of our residents."

Maggie Daley Park will contribute unique new types of open space and activities to the programmatic range of Grant Park as a whole. The 20 acre park boasts signature elements like rock-climbing sculptures, an ice-skating ribbon and a three-acre play garden.

"We are excited to bring such a unique experience to Chicago, as Maggie Daley Park is poised to become a new downtown destination for residents and visitors from near and far," said Superintendent Kelly. "Regardless of the season, this park provides an informal place for recreation and relaxation alongside a connective landscape that will broaden the appeal of Grant Park as a whole."

Nearly a quarter of a mile long and 20 feet wide, the J.B. and M.K. Pritzker Family Skating Ribbon provides 27,500 square feet of ice surface, which is nearly twice the size of a traditional skating rink. The ice ribbon can hold up to 700 skaters at a time. In the summertime, the ribbon can be used by roller-skaters and scooters or by gallery exhibitions and special events. Admission to the skating rink is free, and skate rental will be free on opening day. Going forward, skate rental will cost $12.

The Malkin-Sacks Rock Climbing Wall's maximum height is approximately 40 feet over a total surface area of 19,000 square feet. The wall is divided into different sections for beginners and advanced climbers, accommodating bouldering, lead-harnessed and top rope climbing. Between 25 and 100 climbers can use the climbing wall at a time.

The southeast section of the park is anchored by a three-acre Play Garden, the first of its kind in Chicago. In the spirit of Alice in Wonderland and Charlie and the Chocolate Factory, play and plantings will have diverse opportunities for fun, adventure, exploration and learning for children of all ages. The Play Garden will create a one-of-a-kind play experience for children that captures their imagination, engages different senses in all seasons of the year and integrates the landscape with custom-designed play structures and sculptures. Up to 600 children can play in this feature at one time. The park also features the Blue Cross Blue Shield Great Lawn.

Maggie Daley Park is bordered by Columbus Drive, Randolph Street, Monroe Street and Lake Shore Drive. The $60 million park was funded with $40 million from the Chicago Park District and $20 million in private donations.

In addition to the special features, the park will also include a variety of event spaces such as three large open lawn areas, a smaller lawn panel and café space. The park also will have picnic groves that can be used for smaller groups, such as birthday parties. The remaining areas of Maggie Daley Park, including portions of the play garden, expanded landscape, and climbing walls, will be open to the public in Spring 2015.

Patrons can now register for winter programs at the renovated Maggie Daley Fieldhouse Winter programs begin January 5.

Under Mayor Emanuel's leadership, Chicago's park system has drastically expanded with the addition of nearly 1,000 acres of new park land, 27 new turf field, 17 new parks, 11 new community facilities, 150 refurbished playgrounds and more than $500 million in capital investment from public and private sources. Earlier this year, the Park District won the 2014 National Gold Medal Award for Excellence in Park and Recreation Management. This is the first time Chicago or any urban park district has received this prestigious award.

For more information, visit or call 312.742.PLAY, 312.747.2001 (TTY).


The Chicago Park District is the 2014 Gold Medal Award winner, recognized for excellence in park and recreation management across the nation. For more information about the Chicago Park District's more than 8,200 acres of parkland, 585 parks, 26 miles of lakefront, 10 museums, two world-class conservatories, 16 historic lagoons, nearly 50 natural areas, thousands of special events, sports and entertaining programs, please visit or contact the Chicago Park District at 312/742.PLAY or 312/747.2001 (TTY). Want to share your talent? Volunteer in the parks by calling 312/742.PLAY.

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