A two-year effort to renovate Heritage Park in Wheeling took a significant step toward completion this week when the Wheeling Park District opened the park's new athletic complex -- a key component of the project.
The athletic complex consists of four new ball fields and a two-story concession facility. All of the fields, which feature artificial turf, were designed for baseball and softball, with one suitable also for football and soccer.
Park district officials said the fields will be rented out to area high school teams and adult leagues. On Wednesday evening, Evanston High School and Notre Dame College Prep in Niles played a baseball game on Field No. 1. An adult softball tournament will be held on the fields early next month.
"It feels great to be part of something like this," Jim Waterson, the district's superintendent of parks, said on Wednesday. "This is a state-of-the-art facility, and it will be a great addition to our park district."
The concessions facility includes bathrooms and a food counter on the ground level, plus an upper level to be used by umpires, announcers and others. The fields will be available for daytime and nighttime events.
"There aren't many turf fields like these around," said Justin Sienkiewicz, the district's communications manager. "We think there will be a lot of interest in them. We expect to be hosting local, regional, statewide, even national tournaments here."
The athletic complex is part of a larger $38 million renovation at Heritage Park, a sprawling site that occupies nearly 100 acres south of Dundee Road and west of Wolf Road. The project is being funded primarily by the Metropolitan Water Reclamation District, which is constructing storage basins on the property to provide flood relief for communities along the Des Plaines River.
The balance of the renovation project will include new walking paths, a band shell, additional parking and more. The park district expects the entire project will be completed in early fall.
For more on the Heritage Park renovation, go to heritageparkproject.info.