Oak Lawn reopens expanded sports pavilion
By Steve Metsch firstname.lastname@example.org January 12, 2014 8:24PM
Updated: February 14, 2014 6:19AM
It’s not often a basketball floor wins raves reviews, but that was the case at the grand reopening of the renovated Oak Lawn Community Pavilion.
The lovely grain in the maple floor in the new 18,000-square-foot gymnasium — part of the 16-month, $4 million renovation and expansion of the pavilion, 9401 S. Oak Park Ave. — was a frequently discussed topic among visitors at the reopening celebration Saturday.
“I like it. It’s nice. Wow. What a change,” said Tom Kasprazk, of Oak Lawn, who brought his daughter Jessica, 9, to the event.
“This reminds me of that private gymnasium Michael Jordan has in his house,” he said.
Jessica said she likes the new gym, too, and looks forward to playing volleyball there.
They were among about 500 people who visited the expanded pavilion. Early birds enjoyed free food and beverages from local vendors.
Jessica won’t miss the Sports Court plastic tiles used in the old gym that will be used more for indoor youth soccer games. Few will miss that surface for basketball or volleyball.
Pete Quattrocchi, of Palos Heights, noted the old, rubbery surface “was hard to bounce the ball on.”
“This plays a lot nicer,” said Quattrocchi, who moved from Oak Lawn about six months ago.
He brought his sons, Matthew, 11, and Ryan, 8, to check out the new gym. It was Matthew’s idea after Ryan played a game Saturday morning. They both play basketball for teams at St. Linus School in Oak Lawn.
Park district officials such as Tom Hartwig, director of special facilities, were glad to hear favorable comments from visitors. He thanked patrons for their patience during a process that began in September 2012. The pavilion remained open during the meantime, but there were a steady stream of construction-related delays.
“We’re elated with how things turned out,” he said.
The offices are not quite finished yet, “but all the important things are,” Hartwig said.
The total space added on was about 21,000 square feet, he said.
The project was funded with $1.5 million from the park district and $2.5 million in a grant from the Illinois Department of Natural Resources, Hartwig said.
A ribbon-cutting ceremony Saturday morning was attended by the park board, Oak Lawn Mayor Sandra Bury, state Rep. Kelly Burke, D-Evergreen Park, and U.S. Rep. Dan Lipinski, D-3rd, park district spokeswoman Denise Iwinski said.
A new foyer, restrooms and a massage room were added. There are skylights in the new gym.
The building is Americans With Disabilities Act-compliant.
And one addition that may seem small to some but will loom large to many is a water fountain that includes a spigot that makes it easier to fill water bottles.
Part of the celebration was contest to win a Kindle Fire HDX. Dave Sedakis, 41, was the winner. He was the only person from a field of 61 to sink a shot from half-court, Hartwig said.
The event was sponsored by The PrivateBank.