CHICAGO – On Thursday night, No. 1 ranked Morgan Park High School will take on rival Ssimeon in the Battle of Vncennes. This game is always filled with enormous tension and fans come out in droves. Hundreds fill the gyms unless the game is at Morgan Park, of course -- a gym that holds less than 300 people.
After much debate, even a postponement, it's being played at Morgan Park. Parents want something done about the size of the gym and other conditions at the school.
"The facilities that they play in by any standard are deplorable," said Tiffany Burrell, whose son plays for the Morgan Park varsity basketball team. For the past two of three years, the varsity team has earned the state championship title.
The fans are loyal and show up hundreds at a time. But the gym can't hold them all. The coach says capacity is 270. Recently, against Bogan High School, the gym was very tight.
"You could really see it that the spectators' feet were over the line and the ref had to put the ball into play at another spot," said Morgan Park High School head coach Nick Irvin.
These days, the sought after Morgan Park players train and practice in what some describe as substandard conditions. Starting with the locker room.
"I was shocked. At worst: a third world country. Deplorable....I just had no idea it was that bad," Burrell said.
A video obtained by WGN News from a source gives us a closer look inside.
In the video, the boys meet in an old shower area to talk strategy. Notice the shower heads are still attached to the tiles in that room. Walls are punched out, garbage strewn about and old uniforms decorate the floor. And the smell is awful.
"It isn't just about a smell in the locker room facilities. It's more than just a smell. It's an odor that can't go away," Burrell said.
Old plumbing perhaps. And the players, while they keep winning, continue to wonder why their facilities can't get a face lift.
"Not worthy of a championship team," Irvin said."Not at all, not at all/ That's what probably makes us hungry to win, to help build the facilities later on."
In 2015, Morgan Park graduated 79 percent of its senior class.
As for college hopes, college enrollment there was almost 74 percent. It's impressive when you consider the CPS college enrollment average was under 60 percent.
Coach Irvin says 100 percent of his players attend college after their senior year.
In recent years, CPS has spent $30 million on Morgan Park. Parents want to know where the money went. According to CPS, the bulk of the money went to mechanical, electrical and plumbing upgrades. Over $10 million. Another $10 million went to masonry work, roof and window replacement. The remaining went to interior upgrades. None of it went to the athletic department.
"When you think of the greatness Morgan Park has to offer with athletics and academics, i think those children deserve better," Burrell said.