ST. LOUIS – Forest Park and St. Louis City officials gathered Tuesday to celebrate the groundbreaking of new basketball courts.

Forest Park has never had basketball courts, but St. Louisans have wanted them for several years. Once finished, it’s the first time Forest Park will have courts in its nearly century and a half history.

Crews are working to install two full courts and two half courts, in addition to benches, lighting and 35 trees. They also plan to enhance the tree canopy along Lindell Boulevard.

The new courts are named after Nicholas Booker, a former St. Louis-area high school basketball player who collapsed and died on a court during his freshman year of college in 2018 after an asthma attack. His family was on hand for the groundbreaking.

“It’s a very special day for our family,” says Britt Booker, Nick Booker’s father. “We think about Nick every day and try to be the type of person that he was. One of the things he loved to do was get people together. He made everybody feel welcome. We feel like having a park named after him is the perfect tribute to the spirit that he had.” 

“Along with the courts in Tower Grove Park we broke ground for Forest Park today,” says St. Louis Mayor Tishaura Jones. “That sends a message to the community that all of our parks are open and welcoming to anybody, no matter what sport they play.”

A $1.5 million public and private partnership has helped make the court a reality. They’re expected to open in the summer of 2024.