Major improvements coming to Murphy Rec

Multi-million-dollar improvements to the Lawrence E. Murphy Recreation Center in South Philly’s Whitman neighborhood are now underway.

City officials, community members and representatives from Live! Hotel & Philadelphia were on hand on June 21 to celebrate the official groundbreaking of a $7.5 million project to the park at 300 Shunk St.

“What a great day to be in South Philadelphia, where I grew up, to celebrate the groundbreaking of Murphy Rec Center,” said Mayor Jim Kenney. “I remember when I was a kid playing here at Murphy, I always felt safe and joyful. The children of South Philly can now have that same feeling here at Murphy.” 

The $7.5 million of improvements at Murphy Rec Center were made possible by the city’s Rebuild program, Philadelphia’s $500 million investment in public spaces, and supported in part by Live! Casino & Hotel Philadelphia committing $750,000 to the project.

“Giving back to the communities where our employees and guests live and work is in our DNA at Live! Casino & Hotel Philadelphia,” said Joe Billhimer, Chief Operating & Development Officer at Cordish Gaming Group. “The South Philadelphia community welcomed us with open arms when we opened our property two short years ago, so we’re thrilled to partner with Rebuild and the City of Philadelphia to give these South Philly families a safe place to come together and create lasting memories. These families deserve the very best and we can’t wait to welcome them to the transformed Murphy Rec Center later this year.”

Upgrades to the Murphy Rec Center include:

Synthetic turf athletic fields for baseball, softball, football and soccer with new baseball and softball backstops and ball control netting; new site lighting, team benches and spectator bleachers; prefabricated storage building with electrical connection; combination soccer/football goalposts; new chain link fencing; new concrete sidewalk in the interior of the site; brand new outdoor basketball courts with new standards; replacement of below grade areaway drains and associated piping; new exterior steps from the sidewalk; new louvered steel door and frame; and masonry repairs.

According to city officials, these updates will also include sidewalk reconstruction in portions of the right-of-way of the perimeter of the site, including expanded tree pits and replacement of select trees. Murphy will also receive a maintenance vehicle for servicing and maintaining the synthetic turf field. 

“Murphy Rec is personal to me,” said City Councilmember Mark Squilla. “My friends and I played on this field when we were young, as did my children and their friends, so it is very gratifying for me to be a part of this great Rebuild renovation project. Generations of Philadelphia children have used the field for many years, despite its condition. Now I can look forward to my grandchildren and their friends playing on a state-of-the-art field.”

The recreational space, which sits between Shunk Street and Oregon Avenue and between 3rd and 4th Streets, was renamed in honor of Lawrence E. Murphy in 1964. Lawrence was a dedicated employee of the recreation department for 37 years and worked at this site when it was known as Greenwich Recreation Center.

The 4.9-acre park currently features playground equipment, a pool, a basketball court and sports fields. It also has a five-room building that has a gymnasium and multipurpose rooms. It will offer even more opportunities soon.

“Rebuild is so excited to kick off investments here at Murphy Rec,” said Kira Strong, executive director for Rebuild. “Our community engagement process showed a deep love of outdoor sports like baseball, soccer, softball and football.  We’re so excited for this community to get the upgraded facilities they deserve.

The groundbreaking took place during a block party, which celebrated another promise of the Rebuild program coming to fruition.

“Philadelphia is in need of quality field space for our young people to come together to practice and compete with peers who become lifelong friends through sport,” said Orlando Rendon, Acting Commissioner of Parks and Recreation. “The addition of this high-quality field to our parks and rec inventory will provide the much-needed field time that our South Philly youth sports organizations so desperately need.”