The campaign to build a new Robert Crown Community Center in Evanston has secured a $500,000 sponsorship commitment from Wintrust Bank.

The initiative has now officially raised more than $7 million in gifts and pledges, all before architects have even finalized a design for the new facility and park.

“We’re proud to give back to an organization that does so much for our community,” said Bill Lynch, president and CEO of Wintrust Bank. “As a community bank, we’re dedicated to bettering our local area. By supporting Robert Crown, we can give our kids another place to learn, have fun and grow. That’s something we’re really excited be a part of.”  

“We couldn’t be more grateful for Wintrust’s incredible generosity, vision, and leadership,” said Daniel Stein, board president of the Friends of the Robert Crown Center. “With this gift, they have declared for all to see how committed they are to Evanston’s families and institutions. We look forward to partnering with Wintrust to strengthen our community for years to come.”   

Wintrust’s gift will be spread over multiple years and will be recognized with a prominent naming opportunity within the new community center building or the exterior park. The specific opportunity will be determined after the project’s architects complete their preliminary design. 

Friends of the Robert Crown Center is the community group spearheading fundraising efforts to build a new $30 million Robert Crown Community Center, turf park, and library in a public-private partnership with the City of Evanston and the Evanston Public Library.

FRCC is a nonprofit charitable organization formed in 2016. Its application for IRS 501(c)(3) designation is currently pending, and the organization is permitted to solicit and receive gifts during this review period. All contributions to FRCC are tax-deductible.

The city and library have available bond financing of $10 million and $2.5 million respectively, leaving $17.5 million to be raised through private donations, sponsorships, and institutional program partnerships. 

Wintrust Bank is a group of community banks located in Chicago and the northern suburbs, part of the larger family of Wintrust Community Banks spread across the Chicagoland area.

The Crown Center was built in 1974, funded largely by a significant lead donation from the Crown family.

The center serves as a venue for many sports, including hockey, speed skating, figure skating, soccer, football, lacrosse, and basketball. It also hosts summer camps, preschool activities, tutoring initiatives, lunch and nutrition programs, community meetings, and other public services. It is the city’s most used health and wellness facility.

Join the Conversation


  1. Thank You Wintrust! First Bank?

    Thank you Wintrust for your $500,000 donation! Thank you as well to Northwestern University for their $1,000,000 donation and also to the numerous other donations, large and small, listed on the donor site at Friends of Robert Crown.

    Wouldn’t it be fantastic if First Bank, who by all accounts is reportedly doing quite well, could join in with another contribution in addition to the $5,000 they’re currently listed as donating on Friends of Robert Crown’s site? Homegrown effort! 

  2. Northwestern U. Donation

    I read that as part of their contribution the U. is guaranteed a slew of rental hours. While i want their club team to use our facility, it seems wrong to take $$ with quid pro quos. Does Wintrust get guaranteed advertising space? Do the Blackhawks get guaranteed naming rights? A fundraiser for a public facility should raise funds without conditions in my opinion. 

    1. NU investment and other gift recognition

      Thanks for your questions, Marc. Northwestern’s support is in the form of a program investment rather than a charitable gift, so the new Crown Center will be working with them on usage times and activities. As the article states, Wintrust will receive prominent recognition for their generosity. Like most community fundraising initiatives, we are glad to offer many ways of recognizing donors at all levels, including permanent displays and naming opportunities. Donors are also welcome to give anonymously. The campaign and the Friends are happy to work with each family or organization to acknowledge their support in a meaningful and appropriate way. 

Leave a comment
The goal of our comment policy is to make the comments section a vibrant yet civil space. Treat each other with respect — even the people you disagree with. Whenever possible, provide links to credible documentary evidence to back up your factual claims.

Your email address will not be published.