A new community center will bring technology and gyms to Champaign

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  • When you think of playgrounds, many people probably think of jungle gyms and slides.

The Champaign Park District is changing that with its athletic electronic playground and video game area.

These are just a few of the new Martens Centers on Market Street, just south of Interstate 74.

The space was supposed to open in June, but supply chain issues delayed the project.But next Saturday, after the ribbon runs out, it will be available for everyone to see.

Joe DeLoos, executive director of the Champaign Park District, said he is looking forward to seeing the smiling children running around and using the space.

There is a function room, media center, basketball court, indoor running track, and many classrooms.

“People on the north end of town have never had facilities like this,” he said.

DeLuce said the facility has been in operation since 2017. There’s a gym for yoga and dance, classrooms with big-screen TVs, a kitchen that teaches cooking, and even an electronic playground.

“There are parts where you have to ride a bike to play certain dances, lights, displays, even video games,” says DeLuce. He added that this had never happened before.

“What a great opportunity to move while playing a video game,” he said. DeLuce said he plans to involve the entire community in the center.

Boys and girls clubs use it as part of an after school program. “From entrepreneurship to English as a second language, anything is possible. How to cook in the kitchen, how to be a chef,” he said.

“We have pickleballs, basketballs, volleyballs and, especially in the winter, we have a running track where people can run around the track.” And he added that having it all in one place makes him feel unique and different.

“We will also have an innovation center with all kinds of computers, robots and 3D printers,” he said. He said that not only children but also adults will benefit. He said it was an 11-12 million dollar project. Prior to that, Marquette only occupied space on the street with a few football pitches.

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