Baseball season opens with stadium award, tourneys, Kirk Gibson

The warm weather signals many iconic spring activities – the end of the school year, graduation, and baseball/softball season.  The championship-caliber Art Van Sports Complex (AVSC) in Plainfield Township officially kicked off its second year of operation last month, and already we’re off to a strong start.

AVSC Named a Top 2016 Baseball Facility

While we knew we had a state-of-the art complex, it’s always an honor to be recognized by our national sports peers. Sports Planning Guide named the AVSC one of the “14 Top Baseball Facilities for 2016,” keeping good company with other top-notch stadiums in South Carolina, Florida, Georgia, Nevada and Wisconsin. Sports Planning Guide said the following about the AVSC:

"In 2016, Grand Rapids is scheduled to host a number of baseball tournaments at the Art Van Sports Complex. Opened in 2015, the $7.8 million facility boasts eight baseball fields, all with covered dugouts, bleacher seating, scoreboards and concessions. The championship field also has a public address system. After a successful 2015 campaign, the complex has major plans for this coming year. Game Day USA just brought a National Youth Baseball Championship Qualifier to Grand Rapids, while The Game Cap Classic is planned for June 3-5. Plenty of hotels and restaurants in the city make Grand Rapids an attractive spot to host a tournament."

Summer Season Bring In Teams, Economic Impact

So what does the baseball season have in store? A number of great tournaments plus spring slow pitch league, Wolverine League Baseball and GRABL (Grand Rapids Amateur Baseball League) youth baseball. The season kicked off with the USSSA River City Spring Classic April 23-24, bringing in 24 teams with more than $100,000 in estimated visitor spending.

Below are some highlights of our roster of 17 travel tournament events in 2016 (we’re still booking events as I write this), which in total are estimated to bring in more than $4 million in direct visitor spending and fill up to 8,000 hotel room nightsIt’s worth noting that Game Day USA, who operates events in multiple states and hosts thousands of teams, athletes and spectators representing 25 states and Canada, continues to select the AVSC for many of its top tournaments, including 11 in 2016 alone. And at least three of the summer tournaments will fill the AVSC to capacity.

Baseball Great Kirk Gibson Keynotes 10th Luncheon


No discussion of baseball would be complete without mentioning Major League Baseball great Kirk Gibson, who keynoted the sold-out West Michigan Sports Commission 10th Annual Luncheon May 4 at the JW Marriott. Gibson captivated the crowd not only with anecdotes from his Detroit Tigers days but an update on how he is dealing with his recent diagnosis of Parkinson's disease and how he's treating it like any other part of his life - as a challenge to face head on (and in public). We provided sign-up sheets to support the Kirk Gibson Foundation, but if you didn’t get a chance to donate, you can still do so at Catch media coverage here of Gibson’s remarks.

Here’s to a great summer full of warm days, cool nights, and lots of great sports. Play Ball!



Mike Guswiler
Mike is president of the West Michigan Sports Commission.

Latest Entries

The West Michigan Sports Commission (WMSC) is partnering with Celebration Cinema to bring a new sport to West Michigan – and there’s a good chance you know very little about it.

As we prepare for 2020, I’d like to take a moment to review 2019 – it was another great year for youth and amateur sports in West Michigan!