Sports Complex Planned For Cascade

June 23, 2006
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CASCADE TOWNSHIP — MVP Sports plans to replace golf balls with basketballs, footballs, volleyballs and lacrosse balls when it opens a new multi-sport facility behind the Meijer superstore at 28th Street and Kraft Avenue SE. The proposed MVP team sports center will take the place of CascadeGolfCenter, a driving range and pro shop, as well as make use of surrounding land.

MVP Sportsplex GR LLC recently submitted a site plan for review by CascadeTownship officials. The plan details a proposed 15.86-acre multi-use sports facility featuring four outdoor fields for soccer, football and lacrosse use, as well as a 46,000-square-foot fieldhouse, which would house five courts for basketball and volleyball, as well as fitness training facilities, meeting rooms, a lounge and locker rooms. The existing golf pro shop would be transformed into a concession and lounge facility for the outdoor fields.

Tom Leamon, who owns the golf business, said that he was not surprised to learn that Visser Development, from whom he leases the range, was planning to sell the property.

"Like all golf ranges, they're for sale when they reach their highest potential use. In other words, the land is worth more than the golf business itself," he said. "It doesn't produce the kind of money that buildings and other things will produce."

Financial details about the transaction were not available, but Leamon said that Visser had been asking $2.5 million for the land. He said that he will continue to operate the range as usual, believing that it will be many months before the deal moves forward.

CascadeTownship Planner Mike Deem explained that the two pieces of property involved in the proposal — the driving range and a parcel just south of it — are part of two separate planned unit developments. The MVP plan would require that those agreements be altered to include all of the land in one PUD. That said, Deem doesn't expect that the proposal faces any obstacles to its approval. He said that if things go smoothly, the project could be approved by fall.

Karl Droppers, vice president of MVP Sports Clubs, was more guarded in his enthusiasm about the project.

"Where it stands today is that we have an option on two pieces of property, and we're evaluating a product and a building. We haven't purchased it. We haven't transacted it. We haven't gone through any municipal (process). We've had a few introductory meetings. We're looking at the possibility of a project," he said. "This is all contingent on if we buy the property, at the end of the day. So we're doing our due diligence to see if the project makes sense, if it's the right parcel and the right project for that site."

Although the project is in its early stages, Droppers said, it looks promising.

"The township has been accommodating to us. We feel that it's potentially a good project and a good fit for our sports business," he said. "But there are a number of other things that have to be evaluated before we complete the transaction and move forward."

If the deal goes through, this would be MVP's fourth sports and health facility. The other three are owned as joint ventures between Amway co-founder Rich DeVos's RDV Corp. and local hospitals. A partnership between FloridaHospital and RDV owns the RDV Sportsplex in Orlando, where RDV also owns the NBA's Orlando Magic team. In West Michigan, RDV has formed a partnership with Spectrum Health to operate the MVP Sportsplex on

Burton Street
and
East Paris Avenue SE
and the MVP Metroplex in downtown Grand Rapids. Droppers said that MVP has not solicited any outside investment for the CascadeTownship project at this point, including any potential partnership with Spectrum.

The preliminary introduction of the project will be on the CascadeTownship planning commission's agenda for its July 17 meeting.    

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