Originally constructed to host large-scale tournaments, The Badlandz Paintball Field now accommodates recreational play across more than 400 acres of outdoor forts, creeks, and open fields. Open play draws beginning, intermediate, and advanced paintballers into challenging and fun scenarios. Multiple games kick off simultaneously, sending combatants headlong into battle on isolated fields, with players divvied up based on ability, equipment type, and Duck Hunt high scores to ensure a level playing field. Warriors navigate natural and manmade obstacles as they pummel competitors with polychromatic ammo throughout the woodsball, hyperball, airball, and x-ball courts. Methods of gameplay include elimination, capture the flag, and protect the president and encourage individual or team strategies such as designating snipers or concealing teammates in piles of chameleons. Badlandz staffers patrol the sprawling arena to enforce the game's rules and to ensure that all participants follow the field's stringent safety regulations. Players can bring their own paintballs or purchase them onsite. The facility also runs airsoft games during weekend open play.
Housed inside of an airplane-hanger-like building with a high, A-frame ceiling, Chicagoland Paintball's battleground yields paintballing matches during all seasons. The center suits up players in rental gear before sending them onto the green turf floor to navigate mammoth inflatable X- and barrel-shaped obstacles. After the paint clouds clear, teams can agree to an armistice as they nosh on pepperoni pizzas and slurp down slushies at the onsite snack bar. And in the adjoining lounge, they recharge and recover with free WiFi and cable TV, plus nearby shower facilities that promote cleaner car rides home.
During the Cold War, anything could happen. The US military's response to this reality was to ring every major metropolitan area with defensive missile bases that could launch Nike antiaircraft supersonic missiles at any time. The goal was to make attacking the United States so costly that the Soviets would not dare try. One of the roughly 20 bases defending the Chicago area was Nike Missile Base C-47, a 14-acre site built between 1954 and 1956. Surrounded by 8-foot-tall cyclone fences, the base housed three underground concrete bunkers, three launchers, five radar towers, a fallout shelter, and day barracks.
Today, the Cold War is safely tucked in the nation's memory, but much of C-47 still remains. However, instead of military personnel coming and going throughout their 24-hour shifts, it's paintball and Airsoft players who creep along the 10 sprawling fields, simulating the warfare that luckily never occurred on the base. The terrain includes many of the original features—such as a mess hall, army barracks, and satellite towers, which host strategic meetings and midbattle naps. Referees enforce special safety rules for minors to keep games safe and organized.
Go-karts roar across the racetrack, bumper boats collide, and the cracking sound of confined home runs rings out from batting cages. This multisensory symphony fills the landscaped grounds of Fun Time Square, where attraction after attraction beckons visitors of all ages to kiddie train rides, 18 holes of mini golf, and the blinking lights of pinball machines in the onsite arcade. More intense thrills unfold at a paintball field, where abandoned cars, inflated cover, and war-torn art teachers guard players from enemy paint.
Legacy Paintball and Airsoft Park is a field of dreams, and those dreams belong to Paul Ciesiun. He grew up on paintball fields, and when he was old enough, he owned and operated one, but he still couldn't find a field that matched what he remembered playing on as a kid. So he set out to build one. He found a piece of land in Lockport and along with a crew, cleared away the old tires, abandoned stoves, and forgotten cars that had been dumped there over the years. This set the stage for a paintball and airsoft arena that drew from the best of '90s-era paintball, but with a modern spin. Here, players spread out over four different fields as they duck behind trees or take aim from behind fabricated walls. On-site campgrounds and fishing holes provide players with a place to sleep and eat if they want to make a weekend of it or simulate their ancestors' experience of living off the land with nothing but sacks of paintballs to sleep on.