BYRON TOWNSHIP, Mich. (WOOD) — Special Olympics Michigan has bought the old Grand Rapids South Christian High School campus to turn it into a massive training facility.
The campus on 68th Street SW west of Division Street in Byron Township will be a Unified Sports and Inclusion Center that will serve the whole state.
When it’s up and running, officials say, it will be the largest Special Olympics facility in the world.
“Our athletes usually have to fight for space or on waiting lists. They’ll do basketball practices or any type of practices in a basement if they have to because they’re so passionate and excited to be part of our program,” Krista Paulin, the senior director of development for Special Olympics Michigan, said Thursday. “So this gives them an opportunity to have a space for free, that’s state of the art, that is an area that they can use, that’s their home.”
The campus has a 127,000-square-foot building with two gyms and an auditorium, plus three sports fields. Officials are considering some changes to make it more suited to its new purpose.
In addition to using the property for sports programs, it will host health and wellness initiatives.
“The purchase of this facility makes perfect sense for Special Olympics Michigan,” Timothy Hileman, president & CEO of Special Olympics Michigan, said in a Wednesday statement. “Not only will it help to foster the very integration and inclusion we seek to bring our athletes in West Michigan, it will also allow us the opportunity to serve athletes throughout the entire state of Michigan.”
Special Olympics Michigan hosts more than 700 competitions per year around the state.