Nike Donates $5 Million Towards New Athletic Facility for Obama Foundation's Planned Presidential Center

Nike has donated $5 million to help build the first-ever public athletic facility offered by a U.S. presidential center or library.

The contribution by the Nike Foundation—the charity arm of the global sports brand—aims to create an athletics venue (many areas of which can be accessed free of charge) where locals and visitors alike can "jump into a dance class or join a pickup basketball game," Jorge Casimiro, Nike's chief social and community impact officer and president of the foundation, said in a message posted on the Nike website.

The new facility will be part of the planned Obama Presidential Center on Chicago's South Side, featuring an expansion of Jackson Park with the addition of new gardens, public spaces, a children's playground, scenic pathways for walking, jogging or cycling as well as a spacious lawn with a gentle slope for sledding in the winter and picnics in the summer.

The venue hopes to be "a place to inspire, a place to learn and a place to reflect, but also—as befitting a president who brought his love of hoops from the South Side of Chicago to the South Lawn of the White House—a place to grab some friends and get active," Casimiro said.

"As President Obama declared when he unveiled his plans for the center, 'It wouldn't be the Obama Presidential Center without a place to play some ball'," he added.

Other highlights of the center include a new museum celebrating America's first ever African-American president and first lady. It will chart the history of Obama's presidency, exploring "the eight years of progress, setback, and hope that followed," according to the Obama Foundation website.

The exterior design of the museum "embodies the idea of ascension—of a movement upward from the grassroots," and has been inspired by the idea of four hands joining together to recognize "that many hands shape a place," the website describes.

The museum will also feature a plaza for hosting live performances and festivals and a landscaped courtyard area offering lots of natural light as well as a retail shop and cafe serving food from local sources including honey from onsite beehives.

The Chicago Public Library will also open a new branch offering a rooftop garden and an interactive digital media space, while Jackson Park will feature a new pedestrian promenade running alongside the park's lagoons.

Construction of the new presidential center—which is expected to cost around $500 million—has been hampered by the lack of funds secured for the project.

The library, considered one of Chicago's most highly anticipated architectural projects, was initially slated to begin construction in 2018 but has been delayed with the foundation struggling to raise the finances to break ground on it.

Plans for the center have also been reportedly scrutinized by federal regulators concerned by its construction on the historic grounds of Jackson Park, according to Crain's Chicago Business.

An updated assessment of the center's impact on the historic landscape is expected to be released later this week, Crain's reports.

Obama Presidential Center rendering Chicago
A rendering of the public plaza and museum building of the Obama Presidential Center, as viewed from the roof of the Chicago Public Library building. The Obama Foundation