July 29 2013 12:00 AM

Mid-Michigan Sports Turf takes over at Hope Soccer Complex

Julie Mullin, owner of Mid-Michigan Sports Turf LLC.

Monday, July 19 — Mid-Michigan Sports Turf LLC has officially taken over at the Kenneth A. Hope Soccer Complex. The company’s owner is pitching a future “championship artificial turf field” as the spark for economic development on Lansing’s southeast side.

Sunday was the first day of the 59-month lease that the company recently signed with the city of Lansing. For the past 15 years, Ingham County has run the complex under a lease agreement.

Julie Mullin, owner of Mid-Michigan Sports Turf, said by adding an artificial turf field to the existing six grass fields, the complex will become a “tournament destination” and will help increase business in the area.

“We hope to open it up to regional play by bringing in additional sports for tournaments, which will bring in people that will stay overnight here, eat at the restaurants, increase the traffic to the Lansing area and turn this into a premier, multi-sport facility,” she said.

“Right now it’s just used for soccer. What we’d like to do is expand it,” she added. “And the first line of business would be putting in a championship artificial turf field so we can open it to soccer and lacrosse right away.”

Mullin said the initial investment for the artificial turf field would be about $1 million and construction will begin within the next month. There are also plans to improve the parking lot, picnic area and restrooms and add a concession area, she said.

The turf field will be designed and installed by Sports Field Contractors, an Illinois-based company that is partnering with Mullin on the project.

Mark Driver, CEO of Sports Field Holdings, the parent company of Sports Field Contractors, said there is a potential for “tens of millions of dollars of economic development for the city.”

The cash flow for nearby businesses would peak during weekend tournaments when people from across the region and country would come to stay at Lansing hotels and play at the field, Driver said. He said the rental fees from the large weekend tournaments would go back into improving the complex for the local athletes who use it during the week.

However, the privatization of the Hope Soccer Complex hasn’t come without some controversy. Some people feel that the complex, which was built with public money, should stay public.