Hoverboard park to open in West Dundee
Local entrepreneurs believe they've found a way for kids and adults to safely use the popular, yet controversial, hoverboards.
A 15,000-square-foot hoverboard park -- which local owners Brad Garlin and Mike Tatge say is the first of its kind in the world -- is coming to West Dundee's new Lifezone 360 sports and wellness facility, located in the former Target building at 999 W. Main St. Garlin is from Algonquin; Tatge, from Carpentersville.
HoverPark, expected to be part of Lifezone 360's grand opening in late spring, will allow people ages 7 and older to use high-quality hoverboards in various obstacle courses, ramps and open-hover areas, Garlin said. Novice riders can also start out with harnesses to prevent them from falling.
"Safety is our highest priority," he said. "This is the best possible, safest and most fun environment we can think of to enjoy hoverboards."
College campuses, amusement parks, stadiums, airlines and even some cities across the country have banned hoverboards after reports that the self-balancing scooters were catching fire and malfunctioning.
Garlin, who says he's spent thousands of hours researching and testing boards, has experienced cheap, knock-off boards that malfunction. But the ones that will be used in HoverPark from the China-based Chic run upward of $1,000, and have never given him any problems, he said.
"People are scared of them," Garlin said. "If you get a good, top-of-the-line board, there's never been any issues with fires or malfunctions. It takes away that risk."
Between the safety instructors, training sessions, harnesses and foam padding along the walls and between courses, HoverPark will be safer than any other space to try out hoverboards, said Joe Abraham, chief strategy partner at Lifezone 360. Plus, he said, pads and helmets will be required at all times.
"That gave us a lot of peace of mind," he said. "Our big thing was understanding that it's riskier in the home than it is here."
The new idea did cause the sports complex's insurance costs to increase, Abraham said. "But we look at it as a way of saying, that's the cost of doing something cool," he said. "It'll be worth it."
HoverPark gives hoverboard riders a place to race against the clock in courses, increase their skills and even play hoverboard basketball, Garlin said. The more advanced users become, he said, the more activities they can participate in.
HoverPark will also have a wristband and membership program that will allow customers can keep track of their scores and view their history.
"Hoverboards are fun, but they're kind of a novelty unless you have something specific in mind to do with them," he said. "We're going to try to make this something really fun."
In the future, Garlin and Tatge hope to expand HoverPark and eventually become a franchised operation.
"As word gets around that there's even such a thing as HoverParks, we're excited for what it's going to do for the area," Abraham said.
"We're expecting people to come all over the region to try out this first-time experience."