CONTACT:               Kim Skeltis, APR; (616) 419-8385;      


GRAND RAPIDS, Mich., Oct. 8, 2015 – The new Art Van Sports Complex in Plainfield Township held its final tournament of the season, marking the end of its first year in operation. And to put it in baseball terms, it hit a home run.

Owned and operated by the West Michigan Sports Commission (WMSC), the championship-caliber baseball/ softball complex hosted 18 tournaments between April and October, bringing in an estimated 7,614 participants and 20,000 spectators who booked 7,658 hotel room nights and spent more than $3 million in estimated direct spending.

“The success of our first season demonstrates the demand for a championship-caliber complex in our area,” said WMSC President Mike Guswiler. “In many cases during the season, if we had more hotel rooms and more fields, we would have filled them.”

On four tournament weekends, it was difficult if not impossible to find available hotel rooms, and the complex was pushed to capacity. The Game Day USA National Championships July 24-26 brought more than 100 teams, well over the complex’s 60-team capacity, with the rest playing at adjacent fields near the Art Van Sports Complex.

Complex manager Bryan Baar and officials at the West Michigan Sports Commission observed some key trends of the season, which also will help with 2016 planning:

  • More out-of-state players than anticipated – WMSC and AVSC officials predicted tournaments would attract 50 percent in-state and 50 percent out-of-state players – the result was 56 percent from out of state, with the biggest representation from Illinois (24%), Indiana (14%), Ohio (5%) and Wisconsin (4%).  

Source: West Michigan Sports Commission

  • 53 percent increase in number of room nights – The WMSC estimated at the onset of the season that there would be approximately 5,000 hotel room nights booked during the season; the result was 53 percent higher than anticipated at 7,658 hotel room nights. The spike was attributed to the higher number of out-of-state players who needed lodging.

Source: West Michigan Sports Commission

  • Major tournament operators drive out-of-state players – The WMSC booked tournaments through a few tournament operators, one of which was Illinois-based Game Day USA that attracted many Chicago-area players, contributing to the high out-of-state participation. More tournaments of this nature will be sought in 2016.
  • Diversity of bookings help with seasonal ebbs and flows – The AVSC’s busiest months were, as expected, May through August – with June the busiest month with 200 teams and July the second with 162 teams. However, the AVSC dropped five tournaments from the schedule due to inclement weather in the opening month plus lighter participation in the shoulder months. Local league play, camps, clinics and even a wedding helped fill in any revenue shortfall from cancelled tournaments.  

Source: West Michigan Sports Commission

“This was not only a successful first season, but it also was an important learning year to see what works, what needs tweaking and what types of events we need to attract to fill the AVSC 100 percent of playable weekends,” said Guswiler.

Adding to the successful first season from a usage perspective is the news that the complex’s architecture firm Progressive AE received a Gold 2015 Brick in Architecture Award (Commercial Division) by the Brick Industry Association as part of its 2015 Brick in Architecture Awards Competition. Progressive AE also received a local AIA (American Institute of Architects) Honor Award from AIA Grand Rapids for its work on the complex.

Future Growth - 2016 and Beyond

The 2016 season already has 22 tournaments booked, including two national Game Day USA tournaments that should draw many teams from Illinois and additional surrounding states.  WMSC officials hope to bring the total number of tournaments in 2016 to 24 as they continue to market the complex, as well as add more league play. The WMSC estimates the complex will generate $4 to $5 million in direct visitor spending and more than 8,000 hotel room nights booked based on the current 2016 schedule, which should increase as additional tournaments are booked. The AVSC also will host the International Softball Congress World Championship in August 2017, which should attract 65 teams.

In addition to planning for the 2016 tournament season, the WMSC will continue its fundraising push to begin the $3.5 million Phase II of the complex, which would include four more baseball/softball fields with a supporting concession and restroom building, a championship softball field with press box, and warm-up areas and picnic shelters.

The Art Van Sports Complex was officially dedicated Aug. 1, 2014, and the first event was held Sept. 13, 2014. The West Michigan Sports Commission has managed the project since its inception, breaking ground in October 2012. The Nate Hurwitz Miracle Field, managed by the West Michigan Miracle League and operating on the premises of the AVSC, opened Sept. 20, 2014 and also has grown substantially from its original 32 players to more than 92 players benefiting from this field designed for children with special needs.


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About the Art Van Sports Complex

A flagship project of the West Michigan Sports Commission, the Art Van Sports Complex is a championship-caliber baseball/softball complex near Rockford featuring eight baseball and softball fields, including the 385-foot fenced Richard and Helen DeVos Foundation Championship Field with covered grandstands to seat 1,000 spectators; Nate Hurwitz Miracle League Field for children with disabilities; warm-up areas, restrooms, concessions and maintenance building; and parking for more than 400 vehicles. Upon completion of Phase II, this state-of-the-art facility will feature 12 fields – serving as the only one of its kind in West Michigan and one of only a few in the Midwest. Visit for more information.

About the West Michigan Sports Commission

The West Michigan Sports Commission, a non-profit 501 (c) (3), works to identify, secure and host a diverse level of youth and amateur sporting events to make a positive impact on the economy and quality of life in the region. Since its inception in 2007, the WMSC has booked 400 sporting events and tournaments that attracted 560,000 athletes and visitors, generating $145 million in direct visitor spending. For more information, visit and and follow @WestMiSports.




Media Contacts

West Michigan Sports Commission:

Katy Tigchelaar

Kim Skeltis, Blue Blaze PR

Meijer State Games of Michigan:

Eric Engelbarts, II

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