Before the sun even rose this morning, Julie Mullin says her crew was outside, ready to work.
"We've been out here since six o'clock this morning with our tractors and mowers and a handful of people getting the project started," said Mullin, owner of Mid-Michigan Sports Turf.
Grounds crews spent the day mowing, fertilizing and aerating the six fields at the Kenneth A. Hope Soccer Complex on Aurelius Rd. in Lansing. At the same time, volunteers cleared vegetation out of cracks in the sidewalk and the parking lot, ahead of resurfacing.
Other renovations include upgrades to the picnic area and bathrooms on site, plus the construction of a new turf field with lights.
"Our intention is to turn this into a premier multi-sport complex," Mullin said. "Right now we have soccer and what we'd like to do is expand it."
Mullin said she hopes a new field will attract lacrosse, baseball and even outdoor wrestling meets. The turf is more durable and easier to take care of, she said.
The City of Lansing recently decided to lease the Hope Complex to Mullin's company instead of to the county. Mayor Virg Bernero told News 10 last week that it was a better deal for the city.
The Chill Soccer Club, which Mullin also owns, will have first priority over the use of the fields, something that's ruffled the feathers of other local clubs.
"We've been told we've been able to remain as a customer, but the owner personally called and told me that his club was using the fields Monday through Friday, from 5-9," Todd Derby told News 10 last week. Derby is the CEO of Lansing's TNT Dynamite Soccer Club. "We're going to play most of our games and training on the East Lansing City Complex."
Mullin says she has good intentions. She wants other clubs to use the facility, noting her club pays the same rental fee that other clubs would pay for field time.
Tracy Lord Bishop has two teenage daughters that play for Chill Soccer Club. She says she thinks the new management will bring the community together rather than drive it apart.
"It's going to be opened up to other types of sports so then it means even more community involvement and maybe that don't even know much about soccer now may be familiar or get familiar with it," she said.
Mullin too says she sees the potential for the complex to host large tournaments, drawing out-of-state opponents while bringing money into the area.
"What we envision is having people from all over the country come here to use it as a tournament destination," said Mullin. "Therefore staying in hotels overnight, eating at our local restaurants, shopping, enjoying some activities after their games and spending their money in Mid-Michigan."
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