Naperville's Knoch Park getting better softball field, new turf for lacrosse, soccer and football
Athletes in Naperville Unit District 203 and park district participants across the city are set to have two new fields in 2020, both in Knoch Park.
The first to open will be a varsity softball field for Naperville Central High School, which is set to replace a field that's not up to par with others in the district by spring 2020.
Next up is a synthetic turf field for lacrosse, soccer and football, expected to be playable by fall 2020.
The fields will help the school district address schedule conflicts because of the popularity of lacrosse and give the park district more options for games in the center of town, officials say.
Both are being built under agreements between the two taxing districts.
The first agreement, already approved, says the school district will pay roughly $800,000 to build the upgraded softball field on leased park district land and allow park district activities to use it when school softball teams aren't there.
The second pact, still in the works, will spell out the exact split between the two governing bodies to cover the estimated $4.2 million cost of the turf field.
District 203 has set aside $2 million for the project in its proposed budget for the 2019-2020 school year, which board members are expected to approve Monday.
The synthetic turf field will be 125,000 square feet of playable space with bleachers and will be linked to walkways in Knoch Park by new handicapped-accessible paths, said Eric Shutes, the park district's director of planning.
District 203 has one turf field nearby at its Naperville Central football stadium. But school board President Kristin Fitzgerald said the extra field will help create times for soccer and lacrosse in the spring, when both high school and junior high track teams also need the existing field.
"They're all competing for that space," Fitzgerald said. "This additional space will help all those different sports."
For the park district, the new field provides a central site for games -- and a way to keep playing after wet weather.
"Coming off a spring like we had this past May with rainouts and times we had to close natural turf fields, having additional synthetic turf fields in the community will be nice," said Brad Wilson, park district director of recreation and facilities.
The field projects caused the park district to tell organizers of Ribfest with the Exchange Club of Naperville they could no longer host their event in Knoch Park after 2019. The club is finalizing a deal to potentially host Ribfest 2020 in Romeoville.