Anger Over Soccer Complex Management

By: Alyssa Fenske Email
By: Alyssa Fenske Email

LANSING (WILX)-- A private company is taking over the Kenneth A. Hope Soccer Complex in Lansing, and it may mean some soccer teams will need a new place to play.

Effective July 28th, control of the soccer complex goes from the Ingham County to Mid-Michigan Sports Turf LLC. A company associated with the Chill soccer club team.

"There was a soccer club that's well known and very active, that actually wants to manage the facility," said Mayor Virg Bernero.

The complex was under the management of Ingham County for 15 years. Their lease ends next week. But instead of asking the county if it wanted to continue the lease, Mayor Bernero approved the private company without the counties or city councils consent.

"It doesn't ease my mind because the process was very lacking in transparency," said Kara Hope, Ingham County Board Commissioner.

Bernero was able to approve the switch to a private company because the lease is less than 5 years long. The lease is exactly 59 months long, one month short of being 5 years.

The city will be leasing the complex to Mid-Michigan Sports Turf LLC for $1,000 dollars each year. Owner Julie Mullin says she plans on putting a million dollars into the complex before this winter. An improvement after the county was losing money on the park over the past few years. Muillin wants to create three new fields with artificial turf and add lighting to the complex.

Mullin plans on updating the complex, but it also gives Chill's soccer club team first priority over the fields.

"The city attorney developed an agreement that protects all parties, and provides fair and equitable use to the park," assured Bernero.

Bernero may think the Mid Michigan Sports Turf will play fair, but competitors aren't so sure.

"We've been told we'll be able to remain as a customer, but the owner personally called and told me that his club was using the fields Monday through Friday 5-9," said Todd Derby, President of TNT Dynamite soccer club.

Without knowing if they will be getting enough field time at the Hope Complex, the TNT soccer club is looking elsewhere to do business.

"We've been a loyal customer since '99, but we're talking to East Lansing. We're going to be able to play most of our games and training on the East Lansing City Complex."

No matter what though, the five year lease is finalized. Mayor Bernero is confident his decision to go private will be a good one.

"Five years from now I'm very hopeful that we are going to be talking about adding more activities there, maybe softball, maybe rugby. It's going to be a mecca of sports."

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