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Brief Published: 24 Aug 2018

Nike Converts Church into Basketball Summer Camp

Nike Basketball Church

It’s a brand renowned for its boundary-breaking retail strategies – from members-only spaces to digital loyalty-boosting services and stores producing customised shoes within hours. Now, Nike has transformed a Chicago church into a pop-up summer basketball training camp.

Initiated through a collaboration with a local community, the sportswear giant has turned the Church of Epiphany in Chicago’s West Loop area into a cultural hub for the month of August.

The initiative – dubbed Just Do It HQ at The Church – aims to upskill the local basketball youth, build athletic self-esteem, and support them in chasing their professional dreams. The programme includes a week’s worth of elite training, interactive workshops, pro-player appearances and skill clinics.

Groups of young girls and boys, ranging from members of Chicago’s leading sports clubs and high-school teams to local residents, spend time on court learning drill routines with professional coaches. All participants receive a sponsored Nike outfit, free lunch and transportation.

The radical makeover of the shuttered church into a state-of-the art facility was overseen by London’s Storey Studio in tandem with Nike’s in-house design team. Dating back to 1885, the antique structure now boasts a contemporary aesthetic. The wooden floor is covered in custom markings inspired by symbolic motifs, while the colourful stained-glass windows are reinterpreted as cream-coloured metal mesh safety panels.

Blue wooden panels frame the court and safeguard the ancient structure, and the arch-shaped transept glass windows provided inspiration for stacked white metal lockers. These are hugged by matt brass mesh panels, while soft neon lights sit at the apex of each arch – transporting the church’s history into a contemporary context. It also features a modern weight room to provide a full-body workout.

See also Retail’s Spirit for Adventure and Local Matters.