Over 300,000 visitors anticipated for proposed Bradley water park

H&LA was pleased to provide the feasibility analysis to for the village of Bradley for the proposed waterpark development. We wish the village much success as they work to get this project off the ground.

Published by: Daily Journal/Lee Provost
Published date: February 2024

Folks in the village of Bradley and beyond should get their swimsuits and floaties ready.

The proposed retractable roof, year-round water park development slated for Bradley’s northeastern area could receive the green light from trustees yet this spring.

In addition, preliminary cost projections now stand between $65 million to $85 million and first-year attendance is slated for 323,378, according to tentative figures cited by consultants, Hotel & Leisure Advisors, a Cleveland, Ohio-based firm.

H&LA presented its preliminary report at this week’s Bradley Village Board meeting.

Other key pieces regarding the project:

• The water park is projected to be 90,000 square feet, making it the largest indoor water park in Illinois;

• The park will likely be on about 14 acres, most likely in the area of Northfield Square mall;

• At least one hotel, perhaps two, would be attached to the enclosed water park;

• The indoor facility would have a 2,000-person capacity and be open 274 days annually;

• Of the $17.7 million of projected first-year operating revenues, $10.5 million would come through park admissions.

Based on all the data collected at this point, the 10-year direct impact from the water park would be $399,251,474 and produce $26,770,000 in village taxation; $2,556,000 in county taxation and $60,792,000 in state taxation.

The park could be paid off within 20 years, Watson said.

The village would likely sell $65 million of alternative revenue bonds to construct the park. The bonds would be paid through admissions, meaning the park would pay for itself, officials noted.

Bonds would likely be sold shortly before construction would begin.

While the ultimate size and location of the water park campus has not been finalized, it will reside within the more-than 600-acre soon-to-be-approved Tax Increment Financing district which includes significant portions of Bradley northern boundaries, including the Northfield Square mall property.

While H&LA is working to put together what would be considered the park’s final market feasibility and economic impact study, Bradley Mayor Mike Watson expects the project to be in “the general area of the mall.”

The preliminary report proposed the park campus could be as large as 14 acres.


The park, the report noted, could include numerous water entertainment options including: lazy river, wave pool, 4-lane mat racer slides, speed slides, drop slides, children’s pool, zero-depth pool, an 8,000-square adult pool [with chair, cabanas and swim-up bar], multi-person raft rides, surf machine and a 7,000-square-foot outdoor pool with floating obstacle course.

Regarding food and beverage, there could be snack bar, swim-up adult bar, ice cream and candy shop and connected restaurants.

A workforce of 200 is projected to operate the park.

The property would be owned by the village of Bradley. Watson said the village would consider a private company partnering. He said some inquiries have already been made to him.

“I think it’s a viable project,” Watson flatly said. “Obviously we have more questions, and we need more information but as of now, I believe this to be viable.”

It was in late September when the village board gave the administration the go-ahead to have a water park feasibility study completed at a cost of $45,000.

The nearest indoor water park to the Kankakee County region would be Great Wolf Lodge in Gurnee and the Grand Bear Resort near Starved Rock.

Project discussion is set for the upcoming Bradley Village Board’s Community Development Committee. The three-member committee is chaired by Trustee Gene Jordan. The two other committee members are Darren Westphal and Ryan LeBran.

Watson said the park would likely take a minimum of two years to develop.

If all goes as the village is targeting, the village board could come to a decision to move forward as soon as early 2024.

An architectural firm specializing in such a development would likely need several months to develop plans and prepare bids. If everything falls perfectly, it is possible to open sometime in 2026, Watson said.

Such a development would dwarf any tourism-centered development within Kankakee County, including the Kankakee River State Park.

“The village philosophy is to invest in hard assets,” Watson said. “It’s about bringing visitors to this community. We are trying not to rely on property taxes as the chief source of [government] income, but rather sales taxes. These kinds of projects fill that need.”