Art Van Sports Complex opens

PLAINFIELD TOWNSHIP, Mich. (WZZM) -- After six years of planning and nearly two years of construction, teams are playing ball on the fields at the Art Van Sports Complex near Rockford.

At Friday night's opening ceremonies, an Army paratrooper floated in with the US flag and a baseball.

The Van Elslander family, owners of Art Van Furniture, pitched in nearly $2 million of the $7.5 million it took to build the sports complex.

"We are absolutely ecstatic, could not be happier with the outcome of this," said David Van Elslander. He also said it "surpassed all of our imaginations."

The complex includes eight fields for baseball and softball, including the Miracle Field for players with mental and physical disabilities.

"To see the finished product for all of us has been really exciting," said complex manager Brian Bahr.

The West Michigan Sports Commission says tournament directors and traveling teams are already lining up to play in the complex, showing a "tremendous amount of interest."

Twenty-four of the 27 weekends in the 2015 season are already booked, with interest in 2016 and 2017 dates already being shown, as well.

Organizers say that means extra money in the local economy, too.

"I think it's going to make things a lot busier," said Andrea Covert, who works for the Rogue River Tavern.

Christine Gault owns A Charmed Life Nail Salon, and says she also expects a boost. "When your son is having a baseball game, sometimes it's nice to stop and get a pedicure and manicure when they are having a tournament."

The experts say it should bring $20 million in business to the community.


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