The community enjoyed the re-opening of the Nike Sports Complex on Naperville’s north side. The expanded park now includes tennis, baseball and sand volleyball courts, as well as a playground and biking trails. But park district staff say perhaps the biggest improvement is a state-of-the-art synthetic turf football field. “It’s a whole different feel, much easier on the knees and from a safety standpoint it’s great,” said Ray McGury, the Naperville Park District’s Executive Director. “This is the wave of the future and so we wanted to jump in on both feet on this.”
“While it costs much more initially, it saves money over time because the maintenance on it is much less than you would have a natural turf,” added Park Board President Mike Reilly. “Additionally, it’s striped for multipurpose. It can be used for football. It can be used for soccer and it can be used for lacrosse. So it has great flexibility.”
You’d never know by looking at it, but the Nike Sports Complex started as a missile base in the 1950. Then in the 70’s, the government sold 24 acres of land to the city of Naperville for community use. After the city’s population boomed in the 1990’s, park district staff realized the need to expand the park.
“The demand for athletic space in Naperville exceeds the supply and that causes additional travel time and causes problems, especially when there’s rainouts like we often have in the spring,” said Reilly.
After several years of planning, crews finally broke ground on the park’s expansion last summer. Today, the expansion provides even more recreational opportunities for residents throughout the entire town.
“Those additional 20 acres will not only help the residents that live in the northern part of the city by providing additional athletic fields in their backyard, but will also take pressure off fields in the southern part of the city, which will make those more programmable for people in that area,” said Reilly.
The expansion cost about $5 million dollars. That’s about $500,000 under budget. But for park district leaders, the project’s completion isn’t really about saving money.
“You look at our mission, providing recreational activities – not only sports but all the others – that’s more than money.”
Whether you’re having a ball out on the tennis courts or enjoying a swing on the playground, the expanded and enhanced Nike Sports Complex along Mill Street offers something for everyone.
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