Nike Basketball Transforms a Chicago Church into a Cultural Hub for Basketball

Chicago Scenic was engaged by Nike Basketball and experiential agency Momentum Worldwide to transform the Church of Epiphany on Chicago’s West Side into the ultimate summer basketball training program for inner-city youth.

The program was called Just Do It HQ at the Church and it was timed to the 20th anniversary of the Just Do It tagline, which Nike focuses on ‘chasing your crazy dreams’.

Momentum Worldwide’s creative vision was to create Just do it HQ at the Church as a place for Chicago to reignite belief in the next generation and help them chase their hoop dreams, powered by the best coaches, players, innovative products, and elite training.

Nike said the following about the program: “Nike Chicago is transforming the Church of Epiphany on the West Side into a cultural hub for basketball, inspiration and the ultimate summer training program to help Chicago’s youth chase their dreams. Over the month of August, Just Do It HQ at the Church will include elite basketball training for young athletes while offering a series of interactive youth workshops, pro athlete appearances, and skills clinics designed to help Chicago athletes chase their dreams—both on and off the court.”

The program included daily training, skills development and drills for on court game play and physical off-court training—plus teaching about mental health and the importance of nutrition and recovery. The program was held over four weeks with 23 days of active programming, accommodating 1,997 students and 67 schools.

In a few short weeks, a vacant church was magically transformed into a stunning, working basketball arena, including locker rooms and an off court training facility.

Momentum Worldwide approached Chicago Scenic to help with scenic design and technical direction to ensure the project could be built in the allotted time and space. According to Chicago Scenic’s project manager, Doug Pokorny, Momentum knew they could trust Chicago Scenic as a valued partner to also fabricate and install the event design. “This is what we do. Very few companies have the bandwidth, space, and capacity to turn around a project of this magnitude.” said Pokorny.

The ambitious environmental design took several weeks to carefully plan and prep. Design and staging were evolved continually with an eye toward product quality and to carefully protect the historical integrity of the 120-year old church. Every element was thoughtfully designed—from temporary walls to intricate basketball-themed metal grills designed to protect stained glass, as well as special raised athletic flooring. Also, Chicago Scenic completed heavy preconstruction in several areas of the church before training program elements were installed.

Four rooms in the church were repurposed into separate areas to serve the programming—including a locker room, training room, an equipment room, and the main room transformed into the basketball court. On the area that formerly was the altar, a camera “confessional booth” and recovery session area were also installed.

According to Doug Pokorny, time was short: Fabrication was done in just two weeks and installation completed in a week and a half.

A big thank you to all of partners on this project: Momentum Worldwide (Producer/Brand Experience Agency), Nevin Hedlund (Architect), Kave Construction (General Contractor), Thorton Tomasetti (Engineering), Absolute (Lighting Design), Color Image (Graphics), Creative Sports Concepts (Floor Fabrication and Installation), Prime EES (Electrical Distribution), Orchard Electric (Historical Lighting Preservation)

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