Rec Room—New Recreational Spaces Open in Naperville

August 2014 View more

Girls SportsNaperville is notorious for its growing and active population, so it’s no coincidence that many indoor sports and recreation facilities are choosing Naperville for their next location. The city is also addressing the growing need for more indoor recreational space. With new facilities opening and plans in progress for additional space, residents will soon have even more places to go to stay active.


The master plan available online at the Naperville Park District (NPD) website confirms that the city currently meets only 23 percent of its overall need for indoor space. “We have a deficit of 200,000 square feet of recreation space from what a community of our size should have,” said Brad Wilson, director of recreation at the Naperville Park District.

Wilson said the NPD enjoys good working relationships with the schools in the area and uses their gyms and fields for programs and activities. However, they often get squeezed out by the increasing number of students and extracurricular activities that vie for use of the school spaces. The district is frequently required to move programs to inappropriate settings. Such was the case recently when an adult basketball league had to be relocated to a facility with a carpeted gym.

NMAG0814_SmallFeat_Rec Room Activity Center_800pxConsequently, plans are in full swing for a new $23 million, 80,000 sq. ft. facility at 1760 Quincy Avenue, which will break ground next year. The new NPD Activity Center will offer plenty of indoor fitness space including a walking and jogging track, gymnasiums for team games and practices, a gymnastics room, and multi-purpose meeting rooms for fitness classes. In a series of surveys and town hall meetings, residents also requested an indoor playground space, which will offer a place for tots to burn off energy in the long winter months.


NPD also currently enjoys a good working relationship with Players Sports Complex, which is conveniently located down the street from the proposed Activity Center site. Players currently provides field space for park district sports, but Wilson said the NPD is looking forward to the addition of even more private indoor facilities. Naperville Yard, a 101,000 sq. ft. indoor sports complex, has been approved for construction on 17.5 acres southwest of Freedom Drive and Diehl Rd. When completed, Naperville Yard will be the local version of the Westmont Yard facility in Westmont and will offer daycare and a workout area in addition to indoor turf playing fields for soccer, lacrosse, and football.

The NPD master plan does not call for another golf course, but Naperville golfers can keep their eye on I-88 and Route 59, where TopGolf ( plans to open its second location in the Chicago area. The high-tech golf center will feature climate-controlled, year-round play in their indoor driving range with micro-chipped golf balls. Amenities will include a full-service restaurant, three bars and wait service for the 102 hitting bays.


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Photo courtesy of iFLY

If you’ve ever dreamed of flying but wince at the idea of jumping from a plane, iFLY ( is here. The Austin-based indoor skydiving experience with 23 worldwide locations, opened its first Illinois location this spring in Rosemont. Naperville scored its second location.

“We wanted to bring iFly to a community that’s growing, interested in new experiences and technology, and also could offer a foray into educational and corporate markets,” said Dave Janossy, general manager of the Naperville location and former Air Force parachuting instructor.

The skydiving experience takes place in a Generation 5, 1,400 horsepower wind tunnel and simulates the feeling of flight without the bodily risk or weightless feeling that comes with a leap from a plane. Flyers suit up, receive an orientation to the experience, and enter the flight chamber. As they leap onto a pillar of wind, it lifts them into the air, as an experienced instructor safely guides their flight.

“I’ve heard some call it ‘red bull chamomile’ because it creates simultaneous feelings of excitement and tranquility,” said Janossy.

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Photo courtesy of iFLY

The experience is available to anyone, ages 3 and older, and iFLY also works with Wounded Warriors, since the experience is an especially accessible and freeing experience for amputees and paralyzed individuals. iFly hopes to appeal to corporations looking for unique team-building opportunities that challenge employees to step out of their comfort zone in a fun way. They even provide a boardroom on the third floor of the building for gatherings before or after the flights.

The wind tunnel itself also provides possibilities for studies in aerodynamics and iFly hopes to offer a venue for the Naperville school districts’ STEM education for junior high and high school students.


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Photo courtesy of Naper Settlement

Thanks to the generosity of John Harvard and his late wife Rita Fredenhagen, a 10,000 sq. ft. early learning playscape, featuring the city’s first splashpad for water play, has opened at Naper Settlement ( this summer. “It’s a wonderful opportunity for families and kids to learn that history is fun, even before they really understand what history is,” said Debbie Grinnell, vice president of museum services at Naper Settlement. The interactive playground is located adjacent to Fort Payne and cleverly blends historical perspective with present day fun for kids age 2-7. It features an interactive playground with climbing structures and a kid’s trading post for pretend play. The popular splashpad includes water features designed specifically for Naper Settlement. The larger-than-life hand pump, dancing fountains, sturdy cannons, leaky apple barrels and nearby sensory garden area provides for hours of individual and intergenerational play. The attraction is free for Naperville residents.

“We hope people will see it as a great addition for the youngest learners in our community to not only have a place to play, but to learn about the natural environment and what early Illinoisans may have encountered when they first came out to the prairie,” said Grinnell.