By Kathy Oswalt-Forsythe
Because of the growth of programming and increased participation at the facility and grounds, the community will notice many additions and changes to The Dome Sports Center and its campus north of Schoolcraft on US 131.
The original dome, built in 1986, came down in a storm in 2002. A new skin was put up that same year. Josh and Amber Baird, current owners of the facility, purchased it in 2016, gradually expanding the complex. It now includes an outdoor driving range, three athletic fields, the Miracle Field, and the Sports Science Center, an office building housing Armor Physical Therapy and True 2 Form.
The Bairds’ leadership and commitment to high-quality programming for adults and youth have drawn both coaches and athletes to the facility. The Bairds believe in offering opportunities and resources to make sports “as healthy and fun as possible.” The growth the business has experienced since 2016 shows this philosophy’s appeal.
Many programs are offered within the existing structure: an indoor driving range, golf simulators, league sports, lessons, camps, and batting cages are just a sampling.
But because of the response from the community and the need for additional space, the new dome, to be constructed this year, will be double the capacity of the current structure. The plan is called “Project Intersect.”
Nikki Hackworth, marketing director for the Dome Sportscenter, explains Project Intersect and the timeline. “This new dome and our campus will be the intersection of all our local communities, different sports, and athletes of ALL abilities. Our campus will be the Intersection of Community & Opportunity.”
“This will be an exciting year on our campus. Our summer camp schedule, ‘Diggin’ Summer at The Dome’ is better than ever and we have an action-packed summer planned. We plan to use our athletic fields along with our Sports Science Center to make this an amazing, fun, and safe place for our summer camp athletes.”
In addition to summer camps, the Dome has partnered with Schoolcraft Schools for the past several years to offer both instructional support and recreational activities for summer school students. “This has been a very positive and successful partnership, and we look forward to seeing the teachers and students every year,” says Hackworth.
Current leagues, including grass league volleyball, and activities will also carry on, as the facility and grounds are beginning to change.
“When people drive into the campus, they will notice a couple things. First, we are constructing a barrier-free community playground next to the Miracle Field.” This playground will offer wheelchair ramps and ADA swings and unlimited access for all children, including children with physical disabilities. Once complete, the playground will be free and open to the public during hours of operation.
The infrastructure work required to increase capacity is extensive. “Right now,” says Hackworth, “you will notice some concrete and foundational work in preparation for the new dome.” This work is broad, and will include new air handlers, updates to the electric, septic, sidewalks and fencing. Parking will also be reconfigured and include a drop-off loop.
Another point of pride will be a new entrance to the Dome itself, making the dome easier to access for people in wheelchairs and parents with strollers. “While our current revolving door works to keep the Dome’s pressure stable, it is difficult for some of our visitors. We are changing that.”
Within the new dome, visitors will see the addition of pickleball courts, volleyball and basketball courts, and a walking track, “in addition to offering new and exciting things for our golfing community including evening hours. We are very excited about what’s in store,” says Hackworth.
Visitors will also see changes to the outside campus. “Yes, golfers will be happy to know we are keeping the outdoor driving range, but we are also adding a few new features.” New to the outdoor space will be a series of target greens and T-stations around the campus’ northern section and the installation of additional ball machines and safety netting around the driving range.
Hackworth is dreaming of a community event when the old dome is taken down. She is still investigating some options and will share information when decisions have been made. “Make sure to follow us on Facebook, Instragram and TikTok for updates on future celebration events here at The Dome Sports Center. Our team is thrilled at the opportunity to bring Project Intersect to Southwest Michigan.”
The updates and new construction should be complete by November 1.