GARY | The City Council on Tuesday approved an ordinance establishing a fund, department and budget for the Gary Late Night Basketball League.
The approval will allow the league to begin accepting public donations.
The league currently is being funding through donations from NIPSCO, U.S. Steel, private donations and contributions from the Police and Fire departments.
A $2 admission fee and concessions sales will help raise money for the league.
The Late Night Basketball League kicked off its season in February, when firefighters faced off against police in a fundraiser game at the Genesis Convention Center. Roosevelt High School has offered to host the league from 7 p.m. to midnight every Thursday and will donate a janitor to clean up afterward.
Police Chief Wade Ingram helped create the league to reduce violence in the city.
The number of shootings in Gary has decreased nearly 50 percent, from 63 at this time last year to 32 this year, Ingram said. Victims are typically 18 to 35 years old, which is the same age range allowed in the league.
There are a total of nine teams in the league, three of which include employees of the city and its Police and Fire departments.
“Not only does this league give these young men an opportunity to stay active and healthy, but it also gives them a chance to stay out of the street and do something productive,” Ingram said. “It works really well having members of the city, Police and Fire departments interacting with members of the community. It’s fun to see the young men run circles around us old guys and beat up on us.”
Although the league's current season is nearly over, play will resume in September with the fall season. Teams pay $275 to enter the league. The money helps pay for team jerseys, referees and scorekeepers.
“Since the chief has been here, he has brought many programs to this city to prevent violence,” Councilwoman Carolyn Rogers said. “I appreciate all of these programs that he has helped create in the city of Gary, and I commend him.”