Prepared by the Rowing Group – August 15, 2012 Mark Carroll - firstname.lastname@example.org - 773.354.6311
Link to .pdf file
UPDATED October 16 2012
To those interested in reclaiming Lake Calumet:
The Rowing Group would like to present a concept to build an international-level race course at Lake Calumet that would be able to create jobs for residents in the lake’s area, it would generate new and unique revenue for public bodies in Chicago, and it would provide the tools citizens need in order to lead fit and active lives. Lake Calumet is a unique piece of water that is significantly underutilized and has the unique potential be an extremely valuable asset for the City of Chicago and the members of the alternative sport community.
Alternative sport is a general term used to describe athletic recreational activities that are typically not participated in by the majority of people of Chicago. These would include sports like rowing, paddling, sailing, cycling, stand-up paddleboarding, dragon boating, surfing, and skateboarding. Sports like these, especially rowing, have developed into multimillion dollar industries that have a significantly diverse following and whose participants come from, quite literally, every segment of society.
An international-level competitive race course at Lake Calumet would be able to capitalize on the outstanding benefits that alternative sports can provide by reaching an untapped market of consumers which no other concept available to Chicago can replicate. The shore lands of Lake Calumet must be reclaimed by the people of Chicago for the purposes of recreation and service to the community while at the same time protecting the productivity and scale of industry along the lake. This concept will provide the framework needed to build the nation's greatest international-level race course “so equipped and proportioned that it will satisfy the demands of a commerce as varied as humanity and as extensive as our continent.”#
Historical Data on Lake Calumet
Some of the language and tone of this plan for an international-level racecourse is a direct reference to Arend Van Vlissingen’s plan for the construction of a harbor at Lake Calumet from June 29, 1920, which included references to the Chicago Harbor Commission of 1909, the Lake Shore Reclamation Commission of 1912, and a City Council Resolution from 1912. These statements and conclusions from the past speak the same truths that support the development of an international-level race course at Lake Calumet. The needs of Chicago’s public have changed since Van Vlissingen’s plan was first adopted by the Chicago City Council and no longer is Lake Calumet utilized to its fullest potential. Lake Calumet needs to be redeveloped in order to create more jobs in the community, to provide proven methods to generate new and unique revenue for public bodies, as well as to provide the tools for Chicagoans to stay healthy.
Chicago was first settled by traders like Jean Baptiste DuSable because of the area’s unique and far reaching natural system of waterways, including the short portage link between the Great Lakes System and the Mississippi River System. From the very beginning, Chicago had a significant advantage over other Great Lake settlements because of the potential to link the Gulf of Mexico via the Mississippi River and the Atlantic Ocean via the St. Lawrence Seaway in Canada.
In addition to the Chicago River, we are fortunate to have a second river system that has served as Chicago’s industrial hub for the last 120 years. The Calumet River, as well as Lake Calumet, which lies six miles upstream from the mouth of the river at Iroquois Point, were identified by industrialists like George Pullman as ideal locations for industry and trade. This however was not the first group to use the Calumet area for trade. The word Calumet means pipe-of-peace in the language of the native people from the region. This area was given that name because it was a location that tribes from other regions could easily reach because of the system of waterways that all converged in the area. “It was accessible from distant points by easy means of travel. This advantage, the one of great accessibility, made Chicago in the [native American] days and makes it now a seat of power. Chicago enjoys this advantage through an act of nature.” #
On July 23, 1919 the Committee on Harbors, Wharves and Bridges of the City of Chicago asked for a plan to be drawn-up for Lake Calumet. On June 29, 1920, Arend Van Vlissingen submitted his plan for the construction of a harbor at Lake Calumet which called for the full utilization of all shorelines for port activity. Van Vlissingen plan said the average natural depth of Lake Calumet was 35 inches according to the survey of the United States Engineers, predecessor to the US Army Corps of Engineers. Only part of the Van Vlissingen plan was fully realized and today the shores of Lake Calumet stand as an empty shell of the legacy that was Chicago’s industrial boom, complete with obsolete peninsulas meant for cargo ships with water that was never dredged to a usable depth. Lake Calumet was significantly altered from its previous remaining size and shape after the encroachment of industry and landfill on its shores.
Due to the decline of industries in the Lake Calumet area, Chicago now has an incredible opportunity to convert Lake Calumet into a local venue for international-level rowing, paddling and sailing competitions while at the same time preserving the important and extremely valuable industrial corridors that have connected Chicago to the world.
Detail on the Lake Calumet Race Course Plan
The City of Chicago needs to reclaim its largest inland lake and return it to a form as close as possible to how the Creator intended. Lake Calumet should be utilized as a refuge for wildlife and citizen alike while at the same time preserving the valuable productivity of industry that operates on the shores of Lake Calumet. It is this harmonious coexistence that is necessary in order to realize the true value of a resource like Lake Calumet.
An international-level race course at Lake Calumet will be the cornerstone of a community revival which would pave a wide path to allow the people of Chicago to reclaim their natural resources. This race course would be 2200 meters long with a fully buoyed and removable 2000 meter length section. The Olympic-standard width for a race course would include eight racing lanes, each lane measured at 13.5 meters wide, with a total required width of 108 meters.
This 2200x108 meter piece of water would need to be dredged to a uniform depth of 3.5 meters. In addition, a return channel must be created for a separate route to the opposite side of the course, which would then make the rowing course at Lake Calumet identical to the rowing course at Eton College’s Dorney Lake, which was the venue for the 2012 Olympics in London.
Specially designed bodies of water like this have the potential to draw a significant amount of focus to a region. Chicago is the geographical center of industry, transportation and commerce. With developments like the international-level racecourse at Lake Calumet, Chicago is also able to be the center of alternative sports like rowing, sailing and paddling. A rowing race course would be a brand new and proven source of revenue for the City of Chicago and the Chicago Park District from the ability to host large-scale regattas and races. This new and unique revenue would not be available to Chicago without utilizing alternative sports like rowing.
Alternative sports have been proven to be able to create jobs for the local communities surrounding them, they have demonstrated an ability to generate new and unique revenue for local governments and park districts, as well as able to provide the tools people need to take control of their lives by staying fit and active.
Multi-Year Outline for Lake Calumet
- Establishment of youth rowing program.
- Establishment of youth kayak program.
- Investigate the requirements needed for the public to access to Lake Calumet, including access to water from the public road, the parking of cars, safe storage of equipment, and dock access to the water.
- Establishment of an identification process to highlight safe areas and restricted areas on Lake Calumet.
- Establishment of a repeating monthly community meeting in order hear input from local residents on their desires for Lake Calumet.
- Outreach with community to identify schools or programs who would like to participate in the rowing,paddling and sailing programs on Lake Calumet.
- Establishing safety standards and practices for Lake Calumet and the Calumet River.
- Expanded discussions on dredge and fill plan to develop plan to reshape shoreline of Lake Calumet - the planning would need a connection to the Army Corps of Engineers to coordinate the appropriate planning of the remediation and redevelopment.
- Continued meetings with the public to hear input on progress of Lake Calumet.
- Meet with environmentalist groups who can help to determine the best way to restore the unused sections of Lake Calumet for reclamation by nature.
- Expand development of rowing programs including the planning of the construction of a rowing and paddling boathouse similar to the ones on the Chicago River.
- Establishment of a rowing program for Chicago youths who are have been housed in a juvenile detention center.
- Establishment of an adaptive rowing program at Lake Calumet.
- Establishment of a committee to develop Lake Calumet into a FISA level racecourse and areas for the restoration of a permanent wildlife refuge.
- Expand rowing and paddling programs.
- Establish sailing program.
- Completion of all shoreline reshaping, uniform dredging, racecourse installation, and wildlife preserve area.
- Completion of all rowing and paddling facilities on the shoreline of Lake Calumet.
- First international-level rowing regatta held at Lake Calumet.
- First large-scale college rowing regatta held at Lake Calumet.
- Completion of rowing and paddling boathouse on shores of Lake Calumet.
Proven Examples Demonstrating the Potential for Growth in Chicago
These are examples of successes found in the recent news describing the benefits of a rowing race course for a community.
Eton Dorney Lake
Home of the 2012 Olympics
Bedford Rowing Lake
“Expected to provide up to 2,000 jobs.”
Rowers create economic ripples, thousands of rowers converge on area
"Thousands of rowers and spectators are expected to inject more than $1.44 million into the area economy this week as they descend on Lake Quinsigamond for the USRowing Masters National Championships.”
Published: August 9, 2012
World Class Rowing in Sarasota, Florida
International Racecourse for Florida
Rowing Race Course to Raise Revenue in Suburban Ohio
“The event brought in more than 6,000 visitors, with an estimated million dollar impact to Claremont County.”
Published : Monday, January 16, 2012
Rowing regatta loses corporate sponsor
“Since it began in 1986, Head of the Ohio Regatta has grown from 150 rowers to more than 4,000 participants, including local high school and college athletes . . . over its 17 years, the event has raised about $500,000 for the Mercy Hospital Burn Center . . . averages out to about $29,000 per year.”
Published: January 13, 2004 http://www.post-gazette.com/stories/sectionfront/life/rowing-regatta-loses-corporate-sponsor-525308/#ixzz29Tj7pCyT
Regatta draws hundreds to Dayton
“. . . the event at Island Metro Park has doubled in size in just one year . . . up to 3000 people were seeing this area of Dayton for the first time due to the regatta.”
Published: Saturday, October 6, 2012.
A thousand rowers on the Passaic
“Head of the Passaic Rowing Regatta looks to be the biggest running to date of the annual event, with more than 1,000 athletes in some 300 boats expected on the race course.”
Published: Thursday, October 04, 2012.
GNC Announces Official Sponsorship Of 2012 Reebok CrossFit Games
“At the CrossFit Games, individuals and teams are faced with a wide variety of athletic challenges that may include, but are not limited to, Olympic lifts, gymnastics movements, running, powerlifting, rowing, rope climbs, swimming, kettle bell swings, obstacle courses, and much more . . . the best athletes and teams at Regionals will compete at the finals of the 2012 Reebok CrossFit Games, where a male and female champion are named and awarded $250,000 each.”
Published: March 22, 2012
Regatta’s Sponsor-friendly Moves Net Threefold Revenue Increase
“tapping its volunteer network, the regatta provides individual rowing lessons and corporate team-building clinics to sponsors”
Published: February 13, 2006
Public Need of Lake Calumet Race Course
Van Vlissingen said in his plan, that "the situation at Lake Calumet, through public ownership and control, compactness, and other factors, is more favorable to it's use as a commercial harbor then was and is the case with the private lands along the river and it therefore seems advisable to plan in such a way as not to overlook possible commercial uses of Lake Calumet."# He said this in 1920 and things have not changed. The utilization of Lake Calumet for commercial purposes should not be overlooked and should be supported by the people of the City of Chicago. There is a public need to reclaim Lake Calumet as a place for recreation as well as a venue for commercial development. The best way to do this while being able to protect industry at Lake Calumet and to advance the establishment of natural preserve areas is a rowing race course.
The Rowing Group has met with many current head coaches at top NCAA men and women's rowing programs who all expressed their significant interest in having a 2000m race course in Chicago. Head coaches from University of Notre Dame, University of Michigan, Michigan State University, University of Wisconsin, and the University of Minnesota have all openly advocated for a local race course and can be relied on to be vocal supporters of a race course at Lake Calumet. In addition there are many other local rowing programs that would also be vocal supporters of a race course at Lake Calumet. Most of these programs are non-profit rowing programs that would benefit directly from a rowing course at Lake Calumet.
List of programs that would benefit from an international-level race course at Lake Calumet:
Notre Dame, Wisconsin, Michigan State, Minnesota, Northwestern, University of Chicago, Purdue, Loyola Academy, New Trier High School, Lincoln Park Juniors, Chicago Training Center, Grand Valley State, Michigan, St. Ignatius High School, Recovery on Water, Chicago Rowing Union, Lincoln Park Boat Club, Marquette, North Park, Drake, Iowa, Milwaukee Rowing Club, as well as countless others around the Midwest.
Here are a few sample reasons that the Rowing Group has concluded would be reasons why teams would benefit from utilizing Lake Calumet as a venue for hosting large-scale regattas.
- A rowing course in Chicago would attract large-scale regattas that bring in a significant amount of new money into the local economy. A recent article on Master's Nationals (http://www.telegram.com/article/20120809/NEWS/108099869) showed that $1.44 million would be brought into the local economy of Worchester, MA during one weekend. Last year the regatta brought in $1.86 million into the Oklahoma City, OK local economy. This is just one race, something that can be repeated many times in one season. Rowing is a reliable source of revenue.
- Rowing regattas bring new money into a local economy that would otherwise never come to an area without rowing.
- Rowing is a destination sport, in that traveling long distances to regattas is not an uncommon practice. Chicago has an excellent opportunity to be one of the most successful destination venues for rowing events in North America through the establishment of a race course at Lake Calumet.
- A properly developed 2000m rowing race course at Lake Calumet will allow Chicago to host large-scale annual regattas like women's NCAA National Championships, men's Intercollegiate Rowing Association National Championships (IRAs), women's Big Ten rowing championships, Midwest Junior Championships, Midwest Scholastic Championships, USRowing Junior National Championships, Scholastic Rowing National Championships (SRRAs), USRowing Masters National Championships, USRowing Club National Championships, World Masters Championships, Junior National World Championships, Under 23 World Championships, the Pan Am Games, the World Rowing Championships, and ultimately the Olympic Games.
- A course at Lake Calumet would be a central location for races which would be a more attractive venue for East and West Coast teams to meet in Chicago. Less travel time for competition is what Chicago has to offer.
- Lake Calumet is situated perfectly in Chicago, located directly next to the highway system, which benefits teams who would travel to Chicago for competitions.
- A race course at Lake Calumet would create an option for an NCAA championship which would bring roughly 600 student athletes to the venue.
- Large races held at Lake Calumet would help in the recruitment of high school rowers from Chicago.
- A local 2k race course would assist smaller programs that would be unable to travel to compete against competitive programs from areas outside the city limits due to budget limitations.
- Having a rowing course in Chicago would help programs spend far less money on transportation of rowers and equipment and would eliminate the need for expensive hotel rooms. (New Trier travels with 135 athletes, Loyola travels with 95 athletes, Lincoln Park Juniors travels with 106 athletes)
- Teams that save money on transportation and logistics can use those funds to expand their teams by hiring more coaches and to purchase more equipment.
- Having a local 2k course would provide more opportunities for Chicago rowing programs to race each other competitively which presently only happens once or twice a year.
- Having a local rowing race course would provide more opportunities for the rowing community to bond by meeting together. The entire rowing community would like to be more social in their regattas and events, so this location at Lake Calumet would be a significant tool to satisfy this desire.
- Having a 2k rowing course in Chicago would allow competitive rowing team like Wisconsin, Notre Dame, Michigan, Iowa, and others, to host invitational regattas relatively close to their hometowns which will increase the level of competition they can invite to compete.
- Some competitive teams in the area do not have suitable lengths of water for sprint racing near their home which would make a 2k course in Chicago a valuable asset that top-level Division 1 college programs could rely on as their own home course.
- Having a 2k rowing course in Chicago would allow rowing programs from far away locations to easily travel to Chicago with simple logistics compared to racing at their home water.
- Hypothetical regatta description at Lake Calumet:
- University of Wisconsin women would like to host Yale University and the University of Southern California in an invitational regatta. Selecting Chicago as the home venue for the invitational regatta could potentially save each visiting team over six hours of combined travel time by bus to and from Chicago to Madison, WI and would eliminate the significant expense of chartering a coach bus for the entire weekend. In addition, consider the lives of the athletes who travel. Reducing their overall time commitment to the road allows them more time to be on campus keeping up with their school work rather than having to fight the complications of traveling. Rowing in Chicago would attract a large variety of rowing programs because of the large volume of available flights to Chicago from the majority of locations around the country.
- Establishment of a rowing course allows local Chicago teams to host regattas which build the overall credentials of Chicago as a home for alternative sports.
- Reduced distance travels for local Chicago teams.
- An establishment of a 2k course at Lake Calumet would allow the positive influence of rowing to spread to other areas of Chicago that are too far from the Chicago River to utilize the new rowing boathouses being built by the Chicago Park District.
- The establishment of a new rowing venue could also be utilized for competitive paddling and sailing events in a protected area, something that is also lacking in those alternative sports.
Lake Calumet Industrial TIF
Chicago largest TIF district, the 11,945-acre Lake Calumet TIF was designated to restore business activity on expansive parcels of vacant and underutilized land in the South Deering, Hegewisch and East Side communities. The area was home to numerous large industrial employers for much of the last century before the decline of steel-related industries and other economic trends beginning in the 1970s forced many major employers to downscale and ultimately cease operations. The TIF was designated to implement comprehensive planning and land use objectives that promote the construction of new industrial and commercial uses that provide full-time employment opportunities for area residents. Additional goals include an improved system of roadways, waterways, utilities and other infrastructure that serves existing businesses and future development projects. Funds from the district are also targeted to foster the protection and expansion of the area's wildlife habitats.
In Van Vlissingen’s plan# for the construction of a harbor at Lake Calumet, he talks of the distinct advantages made available to Chicago because of its natural waterways.
“In planning for the future we should be guided by the past and in weighing the factors which chiefly have influenced the past and which will similarly influence the future of Chicago, we find that these were and will be the city's natural geographic advantages, improved and vitalized by the Chicago spirit of "I WILL." #
It is time for that traditional strong-minded Chicago spirit to be called upon to make a bold statement for the future of our city. Daniel Burnham once said, “make no little plans; they have no magic to stir men's blood and probably will themselves not be realized.” He went on to say, “make big plans; aim high in hope and work, remembering that a noble, logical diagram once recorded will not die.”
The Rowing Group
From Rose Marchuk of New Trier High School Rowing
I applaud your efforts in working to make a 2,000 meter rowing course in the Chicago metro area a reality. It is a much needed course and Lake Calumet seems to have all the makings of a great race course that could also be a major attraction to the area. The more it can be sheltered from wind so that all lanes conditions are fair and as flat as possible, the better.
Given that Chicago is already a major transportation hub in a central location, it is highly likely that many teams would be attracted to regattas held on the course. There is huge demand in the rowing community for a 2,000 meter course in the Midwest, especially in a central location. This will have a great impact on the local economy as well.
New Trier High School is a successful rowing program with almost 130 boys and girls participating each fall and spring season. The cost to transport racing shells and rowers to regattas is the largest operating cost of our program. We often find that even after travelling hours to locations that can stage a regatta, the best competition we meet is often the rivals from Chicago such as Lincoln Park Juniors and Loyola Academy. New Trier has won 12 Scholastic National Championship titles for boats that have competed since New Trier's rowing program began just over 10 years ago.
I know the talent found in Chicago-area high school crews will attract other competitors to participate in regattas held on Lake Calumet. It should also provide for growth of the sport by attracting others in the metro-area to take up rowing as part of a healthy active lifestyle as well as providing a great venue for collegiate competitions and even international regattas.
I am a former board member of Friends of the Chicago River and have witnessed a positive transformation of the river and people's attitudes towards it. I met Governor Quinn when he was Lieutenant Governor at what I believe was the River Summit press conference about 7 years ago. I am glad to see that he continues to support such worthy causes.
Director of Rowing
New Trier High School Rowing
From Matt Weise, head coach for Michigan State women's rowing.
A Chicago race course would benefit us in a number of ways:
1. Allow a central location for races and would be a better venue
2. Create an option for an NCAA championship which would be bring roughly 600 student athletes to the venue.
3. Allow for Chicago to hold races which would help in recruitment of high school rowers.
Head Women's Rowing Coach
Michigan State University
From Peter Helfer of the Milwaukee Rowing Club
I was just forwarded your email from the Milwaukee Rowing Club's president, Joe Cincotta, discussing a proposed course down in Chicago and asking for some input. I am the Director of Junior Rowing with the Milwaukee Rowing Club. We have approximately 80-90 high school aged athletes on our junior team. Currently, we need to travel extensively if we hope to see any other competition. Having a venue nearby (Lake Calumet would be roughly 2 hours from our boathouse in Milwaukee, depending on traffic) would be incredibly beneficial to our team. Additionally, we travel well and usually rent about 25 hotel rooms at any race we attend. This is not including the dozens of rooms parents rent. Say, for instance, that MW champs were moved to Lake Calumet, we would get hotel rooms for the multi-day event, and utilize area grocery stores and restaurants to feed well over 125 people, all who are traveling to the area, solely for the rowing. Obviously this is beneficial to the local economy, albeit a small amount on the macro level.
Currently we travel to 4 races a year that either occur in Chicago or we must drive through Chicago to get to them. (Greater Chicago rowing champs, MW Champs, US Nationals, and Chicago Sprints.) Both Chicago races are awesome races, despite the fact they are on nontraditional courses. Those races would certainly be enhanced by a good course. If you would host another regatta, say late summer, you can almost be assured Milwaukee will be there. Obviously, our budget would benefit from either MW champs or nationals being moved closer to home, but Chicago would benefit likewise. Last year at MW champs, held in Cincinnati, we paid almost $9,000 on services (hotels, meals, gas) directly to the Cincinnati economy for that weekend. Multiply that by 15-20 teams, some of which are larger, and it is a meaningful chunk of cash. With all of the teams in or west of Chicago that attend that race, it is not outside the realm of possibility to persuade the regatta to move to a Chicago course occasionally.
I hope it can help.
Director of Junior Rowing
The Milwaukee Rowing Club
From Nate Kelp-Lenane of New Trier High School Rowing
This is fantastic. I could not be happier that your idea is coming to fruition. I will light some candles to make sure this goes down. Thanks for seeing this through. A couple of ideas I would highlight that we have already talked about, but I do not see in your bullet points. It seems like most of your bullet points focus on saving costs for local crews, but I would also highlight adding more to local economies, social capital, and creating a new rowing destination - Making rowing accessible to low Social-economical status neighborhoods (you might have to reward that).
- Schools interested in rowing on the South Side have to travel xxxx miles to a suitable water way
- The benefits of rowing for a HS aged girl/boy for moving to higher education
- Chicago Training Center is a great model
- Pumping money in to local economy
- Teams traveling here need to stay in hotels, eat at restaurants, and support local businesses in Calumet
- At the IRAs/Midwests/Masters/Clubs Nationals there are xxxxx amount of athletes and estimated xxxxx number of family and friends who attend. All needing lodging, food, and entertainment.
- Connecting the West and East Coast
- Collegiate programs like Washington, Cal, Harvard, Brown, and Wisconsin can meet in Chicago
- Use Oklahoma City &Sarasota, FL for examples.
- Use Oklahoma as a great example of developing a rowing destination for crews across the country.
- Sarasota has also done the same and made massive amounts of revenue for the city and local business
I hope these items can help.
From representatives from Marquette University Crew
As Marquette Crew, coming from Milwaukee, we would benefit from having a 2k course in the Chicago area. We are a student run program and are in a constant battle with our budget. Having this course in close proximity to us would allow us to compete in more competition, official or duel, at less of a cost to the club. As you know, rowing is very expensive and racing in Chicago cuts down on our expenses including gas, trailering, hotels, and airfare. Not only would Marquette Crew be able to attend more regattas, this venue would bring in more and better competition for us to compete against. Rowing against upper echelon teams would greatly benefit us and develop our rowers. The current waterways in Milwaukee/Chicago don't lend well to training for 2k races and having this course would provide a state of the art facility to train at along with providing a safe facility that would attract rowing clubs from around the upper Midwest.
All of the samples in your email apply to us, but these are the ones that directly affect us. If you need anything else from us, just let us know.
Can't wait to see what happens,
Marquette Crew Co-President 2011-2013
From local business woman and active competitive adult rower, Frances Tuite.
Great work... I think you have covered most benefits. It is a fantastic idea and you have my full support. I speak as a member of Lincoln Park Boat Club, Big Shoulders, Purdue alum and rower for 36 years (24 in Chicago).
From Joan Crist, head coach at the newest area college rowing team. (founded with direct help from the Rowing Group)
To Whom it May Concern,
A proper 2k rowing course on the south side of Chicago would be a huge asset for the new crew program at Calumet College of St. Joseph in Hammond, IN. Currently we practice on Wolf Lake in Hammond, where we keep our boat. Wolf Lake offers us a roughly 1,000 meter straight run. A 2,000 meter course in the area would enable us to practice effectively for sprints. We would also benefit from opportunities to scrimmage with other crews in the area at an easily accessible venue.
Thank you for your time and consideration,
Joan Crist, Ph. D.
Assistant Professor of Religious Studies
Crew Coach, Calumet College of St. Joseph
Hammond, IN (219) 473-4304 email@example.com
Link to .pdf file
For more information, contact Mark Carroll with the Rowing Group. firstname.lastname@example.org – 773.354.6311