LAKETON TOWNSHIP, MI – In the first two days of a $50,000 campaign, the Muskegon Winter Sports Complex collected more than $8,600.
The campaign went live on the Michigan Economic Development Corp. (MEDC) Patronicity website on Tuesday, Sept. 12, with a goal of $50,000 by Nov. 13. If successful, the MEDC will match the funds for a total of $100,000 to go toward “dual mega zip lines” at the sports complex.
The 1,000-foot parallel zip lines are the top priority in the complex’s “Many Reasons for All Seasons” plan, which will essentially take the “winter” out of winter sports complex and make it a year-round recreation destination.
In its entirety, the project has a price tag around $2.7 million. The zip lines account for $150,000 of that.
If the Patronicity campaign is a success, the zip lines will be fully funded since an anonymous $50,000 donation was made through the Community Foundation for Muskegon County.
Leading the way on the campaign were five donors making contributions of more than $1,000 in the first two days – adding up to $7,000. One of those donors was Jim and Pam Rudicil, winter sports complex executive director and his wife.
“It’s something I believe in wholeheartedly,” Jim Rudicil said. “It will be a gamechanger for recreation in Muskegon County.”
It will be “so much more than a zip line,” he added. It will provide views of Muskegon State Park that haven’t been available before, and an educational opportunity that will be the beginning of an ecotour telling the story of the sports complex, the state park, the ecosystem and the critical dunes it resides on.
“We’ve got a great story to tell along with it,” Jim Rudicil said. “The zip line will be an educational ecotour with some adventure added in.”
So far, 20 people have donated to the cause at various levels. There are 60 days left in the campaign. Spring 2018 construction is the goal.
Here are the levels of support, and the recognition that comes with them:
- $10 or more – “Thanks for your support.”
- $25 or more – “Zip Line Cable Donor” (Adopt a 1-foot section of the zip line cable and receive name recognition on the Zip Line Cable Donor plaque.)
- $100 or more – “Deck Board Donor” (Receive name recognition on one of the deck boards of the zip line landing platform.)
- $300 or more – “Inaugural Runs on The Zip Line” (Be one of the first to take a run down the zip line – after it’s tested a certified.)
- $1,000 or more – “Equipment Chalet Donor” (Receive name recognition on a plaque at the equipment chalet.)
- $5,000 or more – “Starting Deck Naming Donor” or “Landing Deck Naming Donor”
- $25,000 or more – “Naming rights to the zip line”
The nonprofit sports complex leases land free of charge from the Michigan Department of Natural Resources (DNR). The tax ID to use for tax deductible donations is included on the Patronicity page.
The all-seasons plans also includes a canopy trail tour, multi-use pavilion, rock walls, a biathlon trail and archery range, sports and fitness trail, expanded lodge and parking, accessibility improvements, and more maintenance and storage facilities.
Here’s a cost breakdown:
- “Dual mega zip line”: $150,000
- Hillside incline elevator: $300,000 (grant request submitted)
- Canopy trail tour: $500,000
- Indoor/outdoor rock climbing wall: $200,000
- Multi-use pavilion: $500,000
- Lodge expansion: $500,000
- Shared use garage: $100,000
- Existing garage conversion: $50,000
- Parking expansion: $50,000
- Sports fitness trail/LED light upgrade: $57,000 (funded)
- Biathlon/archery range: $15,000 (funded)
- Emergency road access: $5,000
- Accessibility improvements: $250,000
The complex has identified the top priorities as the elevator, zip line, canopy trail tour, indoor/outdoor rock climbing wall and 20,000-square-foot multiuse pavilion. These “critical mass” improvements to the complex add up to $1.65 million. The total project is closer to $2.7 million.
The DNR has submitted an application for a $300,000 grant to the Natural Resources Trust Fund to pay for a hillside incline elevator that would provide universal access to the winter luge track and the dual mega zipline.
A $5,000 donation came from the James A. and Leora J. Schillaci Fund at the Community Foundation of Muskegon County to go toward the biathlon/archery range. The range has a total cost of $15,000, but Jim Rudicil said he’s working with the $5,000, some general funds and volunteer labor to get the project done.
While not a top priority, the first completed project is the multi-use fitness trail, which is currently the lighted cross country ski trail. It has been equipped with LED lights and benches at a cost of $57,000, the majority of which came from a $50,000 grant from the Arconic Foundation.
The trail will be lit at night starting this fall, Jim Rudicil said previously. It has previously only been lit during winter due to high electricity costs.
The push toward year-round recreation comes after years of unpredictable winters. Winter 2016-17 was particularly brutal for the complex with most attractions closed during a majority of the season as swinging temperatures caused inconsistent ice.