Winter Sports Complex Comes Out of Hibernation
And the news is especially good for winter sports attraction sites, such as the Muskegon Winter Sports Complex.
The sports lodge, started in 1983, has been a focal point for winter activities in the Lakeshore area and Muskegon State Park. When completed in 1990, the park offered a luge and bobsled run, five miles of lighted cross-country ski trails and an ice rink.
Four years later, the sports complex gained national recognition, thanks to one of Muskegon’s local heroes, Mark Grimmette.
Grimmette placed fourth in the doubles luge competition at the Winter Olympics in Lillehammer, Norway, which was the best finish ever for a U.S. team.
At the 1998 Winter Games in Nagano, Japan, Grimmette and his doubles partner, Brian Martin, took the bronze medal, missing the Gold by two-thousandths of a second. Grimmette is still on the national team and expects to compete with the U.S. Olympic Team in 2002. He was an original volunteer helping to construct the luge track in Muskegon, and he practiced there until he made the national team.
Not only does the complex bring business to the Muskegon area, it is something the residents are proud of because of the care and effort that went into its construction. When state funding was not available for the unfinished parts of the complex, residents came together and volunteered their time and money to help finish the complex.
The cross-country ski trail is lit with lights sponsored by residents who donated $100 to “adopt a light.” During the first year of operation, the Winter Sports Complex brought in 30,000 visitors despite warm temperatures and lack of snow.
The responsibility of operating a luge run, bobsled, cross-country ski trail, ice rink and lodge is undoubtedly a large task, but one that is accomplished during the winter months by volunteers who operate as the Muskegon Sports Council, a not-for-profit corporation.
Over the past years the council has run into difficulty in raising funds for operating costs but has managed to operate every year due to the generosity of residents, area businesses, and organizations that contribute time, services and materials.
The complex organizes luge races from January through the beginning of March, and those events are open to the public. It also offers a speed-skating club as well as cross-country skiing and ice skating for under $10.
During the summer months, Muskegon State Park assumes operational responsibilities for the Sports Lodge and occasionally rents the building for meetings, receptions and other special events.