It’s no secret that Marquette County gets a bit, um, chilly for a few months every year. That’s great news for folks who count the days until they can strap on skis. But what about those who, come April, would prefer to practice their golf or tennis swing?
The U.P. SportsPlex has an answer for them. Since the fall of 2013, the former industrial complex on Wright Street, just north of NMU’s campus, has welcomed outdoor sports fans of all ages to a decidedly roofed-in cluster of active spaces.
The U.P. SportsPlex’s website bills the place as the “Upper Peninsula’s Premier Indoor Sports Facility,” and it doesn’t dissapoint. Located on a parcel owned by Argonics – and formerly home to the company’s facility, before its recent move to K.I. Sawyer, the SportsPlex features:
It might be less than a year old, but the SportsPlex already hosts a bevy of youth and adult leagues, along with training programs and drop-in blocks, which allow members of the public to swing by and kick or throw a ball around for an hour. It’s also a center for private tennis, golf, baseball and lacrosse instruction, not to mention preseason softball training. They say it’s hard to be everything to everyone, but the U.P. SportsPlex comes close.
So how did the SportsPlex get its start? When Argonics packed up and moved to a sparkling new facility at K.I. Sawyer, it held onto the vacant Wright Street property. Frustrated that he was spending money to keep the old space, owner Bob Flood jumped on the Marquette city council’s decision to relax restrictions on retail operations in formerly industrial parcels.
“Bob Flood made this happen,” says Doug Smith, the U.P. SportsPlex’s general manager (and a former Ferris State hockey player who previously oversaw operations at Lakeview Arena and worked as a consultant for multi-use sports facilities). Flood invested about $750,000 in the property’s redevelopment, which culminated in its October 2013 grand opening. He envisioned a multi-use, multi-season space that would accommodate competitive youth tennis players and first-time roller skaters under the same roof. Oh, and those early-bird golfers sick of navigating flooded golf courses for the first month of the season.
“Maintaining a multi-use space will be the key to our success,” says Smith. People might come for one reason or another – from the Friday night free skate to the kid’s birthday party to the flag football league – but they’re sure to find other things to keep them occupied. The disco-style free skates, after-school programs and weekend birthday parties have been particularly popular so far, according to Smith.
Ah, the birthday parties. The U.P. SportsPlex offers “party packages” for pretty much every taste. For no-frills fun, there’s the Roller Skating Party Package, which includes use of the skating rink, skate rental and table setup. Parties who want their run of the driving range/batting cages/flag football field have the Turf Room Party Package, which allows unrestricted use of the facility’s “turf room.” Meanwhile, the Tennis Court Party Package includes the option to play volleyball or disc golf on the courts. None comes close to the Platinum Sports Party Package, though: The most generous party package of them all allows unrestricted use of the roller rink/multi-use area and the turf room, along with the seating in and around the concession area.
Ready to see the U.P. SportsPlex for yourself? Next time you’re nearby, stop by for free skate, drop-in soccer, driving range hours and more!
1110 Wright St, Marquette, MI 49855