Grand opening set for Leonhard rec center
CHAMPAIGN — Pat Warmbier is one of the lucky ones — she had the walking track at the new Leonhard Recreation Center all to herself last week.
"It's so much bigger and open," she said of the new facility.
Officials are putting the finishing touches on the new, $5.4 million recreation center as they prepare for its official grand opening Saturday.
But the Champaign Park District is already accepting membership. Warmbier is paid in full and was checking off laps Thursday on the 1/13-mile walking track ringing the two full-size basketball courts (which can also be converted into four full-size volleyball courts).
"The doctor told me to keep it up," Warmbier said.
So what advantages will the new facility offer over the old?
"There's more size and overall usability is better," said Chelsea Norton, the park district's marketing manager. "There's more rooms, it's a larger gym, a walking track. There's more to do there."
That includes a workout room with three ellipticals, four bikes, three treadmills and a number of weight machines.
At 2307 Sangamon Drive, the new center is just down the block from the old one. Park officials are also excited about the air conditioning in the new facility — simply that there is a cooling system, something the old building lacks.
"The sheer size of the gym has astounded people too," Norton said.
Despite its deteriorating condition, the old Leonhard Rec Center will be saved. The park district is working on an agreement to lease the building to The Cage, which would install six batting cages.
The park board has yet to sign off on that lease, but Norton said park officials expect the batting cage facility will be up and running by November.
The official grand opening at the new recreation center is Saturday between 2 p.m. and 5 p.m. Park officials will be giving tours of the facility and explaining membership benefits after a ribbon cutting ceremony. There will also be giveaways and activities for children, including the indoor playground which is a permanent fixture in the new building (think McDonald's PlayPlace).
It will be "really casual," Norton said. "Come as you are and check out the facility."
The facility was built in part with a $2.5 million state grant. That grant required a minimum $625,000 in matching funds from the park district, but officials decided to go well beyond that.
The intent of the new Leonhard Recreation Center was to provide more services and a usable facility for residents, Norton said.
"I think we nailed it," she said.
Memberships available now
The new Leonhard Recreation Center is in a soft-open period, and the park district is accepting membership in advance of Saturday's grand opening. Here's what you can expect to pay annually:
Individual (resident/non-resident): $70/$140
Family of two or three: $140/$280
Family of four: $160/$320
Family of five: $180/$360
Each additional family member after five: $20/$40
Daily admission for non-members: $5/$10
Members have access to all facilities, a 10 percent discount on parties and rentals, and scheduled member-only events. Weight room access is not guaranteed to non-members.