Four basketball courts recently in disrepair on the city's southeast side got a facelift, thanks to a $50,000 grant from the NBA.
The courts at McMillen Park, off Oxford Street, were resurfaced and now feature a colorful four-court mural designed by Fort Wayne artist Andree Portee. The work was paid for by the professional basketball league's All-Star Legacy Grant program, which has funded 21 brick-and-mortar improvement projects across Indiana.
“The last time I was here, there were cracks (in the playing surface), there were bullet holes in the backboards and there were weeds growing,” Diana Boyce, vice president of 2021 NBA All-Star, said during a news conference. “Look at it now.”
Turnstone partnered with the Fort Wayne Parks and Recreation Department on the project, which was unveiled Friday.
Portee started working on the courts in September and said he designed them in red, green and black – colors of the Pan-African Flag – to symbolize Black Pride.
“I wanted to keep it somewhat relevant to the surrounding neighborhood,” he said.
City leaders including Mayor Tom Henry and Turnstone officials said the courts represent inclusivity and openness. The courts will serve as sites for wheelchair basketball and other clinics hosted by Turnstone, which works with people with disabilities.
“The combination of sport and art creates a powerful environment that uniquely encourages diversity and inclusivity,” Turnstone CEO Mike Mushett CEO said. “We are honored to help create a fresh space for people of all ages and abilities to gather and play a sport that is so rich in Hoosier heritage.”
Indianapolis was named the host of the 2021 NBA All-Star game, and the league's All-Star Host Committee awarded up to $50,000 to 21 organizations across the state for projects “focused on health and wellness or education,” according to a news release. The local project is the first project completed.
“From STEM learning labs to basketball courts like these four at McMillen Park, our NBA All-Star Legacy projects exhibit the importance of taking an event like NBA All-Star and making it more than a game for our great communities throughout Indiana,” Rick Fuson, founding chairman of the All-Star Board of Directors and president and chief operating officer of Pacers Sports and Entertainment, said in the release.