PUBLISHED September 7, 2021 | News
SPRINGFIELD — Standing on the brand-new basketball court in Calhoun Park, state Sen. Adam Gomez and School Committee member Maria Perez recalled the many tournaments held on the old court in honor of Perez’ husband, Freddy Moreno, who offered free coaching and music lessons to neighborhood kids.
“This was one of his biggest dreams,” Perez said. “He always said that sports and music were the best way to bring our children forward and to help our community.”
The new Dream Court is a multipurpose play space in the North End that gives neighborhood children a safe area to shoot hoops, socialize and learn about teamwork and good sportsmanship.
There are now 102 Dream Courts across the country, former professional basketball player Nancy Lieberman said during the ribbon-cutting ceremony for the court Tuesday morning.
Lieberman played for the Springfield Fame in the United States Basketball League in 1986, becoming the first woman to play on a men’s professional team. She was inducted into the Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall of Fame in 1996.
Lieberman partnered with the hall of fame, City Hall and the Springfield Police Department to get the Calhoun Park Dream Court done. On Tuesday she joined Springfield Mayor Domenic J. Sarno, hall of fame president and CEO John Doleva, and city and state officials to inaugurate the court by shooting a few hoops.
The city paid $65,000 for the cement base, and $100,000 was donated by the Lieberman charity to pay for the rubberized court and basketball hoops and backboards.
Gomez, D-Springfield, said the court is the result of advocacy work by the New North Citizens Council and neighborhood residents, the city and private partners like the hall of fame and the Lieberman charity.
“This is something the community has been waiting for in my lifetime and probably longer, and I’m 38 years old,” he said.
This is the second Dream Court in Springfield. The first was built in 2018 at Adams Park on Wilbraham Road, said parks director Patrick Sullivan.
“We are thrilled to have this court. It becomes a new focal point for the neighborhood,” Sullivan said. “There has been a really grassroots effort around that court in Adams Park, and we hope to see that here. I would like to see one of these courts in every neighborhood in the city.”