By Sue Moore
The Dome Sports Center, at 12733 US-131 north of Schoolcraft, has been known for year round golf since it was built in 1998. It has served golfers with indoor and outdoor driving ranges as well as golf simulators. Now it will become a multi-sports campus with a sense of community will be embodied and give kids a chance to have fun and do their best in whatever sport they choose.
Under new ownership of former Stryker employee Josh Baird and his wife, Amber, since January, the Dome is going to branch out: The Bairds’ vision is to turn The Dome into a unique training environment providing athletes of all ages a place to discover their strengths, pursue their passions and allow them to become the best they can be.
“We want to interact with the community with this unique training environment,” Baird said, “We are proud to partner with like-minded affiliates to promote products and services on our campus and throughout our network. We hope to serve the area coaches in any small way we can help. We want to serve the community with a warm and inviting destination for kids.”
The Dome is the largest indoor turf playing field within a 100-mile radius, said Baird. He ticked off statistics for the facility: It has 40,000 sq. ft. for the driving range, a 70-foot ceiling height, a golf simulator, 2,500-square-foot clubhouse, a second-story mezzanine for viewing the lower playing level, and 12 acres of land that features an outdoor driving range. The Dome itself is held up by air pressure. It has an inflation system with a set of fans and motors. “We turn up the pressure if a storm is coming through,” Baird said. “This building could become a big sail if we don’t do that. You really don’t want it to start moving on you.”
While the Dome won’t be used only for golf anymore, golf will continue to be one of the main services offered there. The indoor and outdoor driving ranges will continue to operate. The Bairds are planning on expanding simulator offerings to include more leagues throughout the winter for area golfers. “We want to make sure that the golfers in the area know that we are dedicated to continuing to offer them the opportunities to work on their sport as well,” Baird said. “We have had several people tell us they heard we were getting rid of the golf. We want to make sure the golf community knows we are not going to do that.”
Baird’s passion for supporting area athletes is evident; he is co-owner of Next Level Performance, another facility that serves athletes. “Next Level’s operating model is a shared passion for sports and how that can become a teaching vehicle for life’s lessons,” Baird said. “We work for the benefit of families that want to participate in sports.” Baird’s co-owners at Next Level are Scott Gajos, a physical education teacher at Indian Lake Elementary in Vicksburg, and Tim Hiller, a Stryker employee and former star quarterback on Western Michigan University’s football team. Next Level will be one of the area sports organizations using the Dome to offer sports training.
Their first order of business for the Dome will be to upgrade the indoor turf for a better playing surface and increase the lighting inside. An open house for the community is being planned for later this fall for the Schoolcraft property.
Amber Baird is closely involved with the Dome’s business operations and the Dome’s web site, http://www.michigandome.com. They have a son, Jacob, a freshman at Vicksburg High School this year. The family has been involved in the Vicksburg Athletic Boosters organization for a number of years, with Baird serving as vice president in the 2015-16 school year.