Kaliseum Recreation Complex: a colossal community project

KALKASKA – A lot can happen in three and a half years. Take the Kaliseum Recreation Complex, for example. It was only an idea about that long ago, shared by a few sports-oriented Kalkaska County residents. They formed a committee and approached the County Commission with a proposal. Voters approved a $6 million bond for the building. And the Kaliseum became reality.

The proposed millage to fund operating expenses was defeated, so the Complex has to support itself through user fees, donations, and grants. Don Cooley, executive director, estimates the operating budget for 2001 will be around $600,000.

The Complex will have to rely on those same funding sources for the completion of the second floor, where there’s no heating, plumbing, or electrical finished yet.

“That wasn’t included in the $6 million,” said Cooley. But he is hopeful, and grateful.

“Traverse City Rotary donated $50,000 for the elevator, the Kalkaska Industrial Development Corporation made a donation, and so did the Sports Boosters of Kalkaska, and some classes,” he said.

Additional revenue sources include banner advertising on the rink at a cost of $800 for two years, scoreboard advertising at $5,000 for three years, ice time fees, and user fees from open skate and swim sessions.

“Quite frankly, the response has been overwhelming,” said Cooley. “Are we ever busy!” He estimates that between 150 and 250 people attend each open skate session. “One month we had over 1,500 kids in here,” he said.

Once the second level is completed, plans may include a fitness center and meeting rooms, which, according to Cooley, “are desperately needed in the area.”

He also hopes to use the building for craft and car shows, wedding receptions, and maybe even some concerts.

The lower level of the Complex houses the ice rink, pool, lobby with seating, and a commons area with video games, concession stand, skate rental, and the Penalty Shot Pro Shop.

Derek Hogerheide, the owner of the pro shop, was part of the group working on the building early on. An avid hockey player and entrepreneur, Hogerheide knew the store “was something it had to have.” He submitted a proposal to the Board to rent space in the Complex, and it was accepted.

So far traffic has been “pretty good,” according to Hogerheide.

“It’s been about or a little better than we expected. We’re to the point now where we’re reordering things. We’re going through quite a bit of skate protectors, mouthpieces, helmets, skates, and protective equipment. We’re selling it everyday.”

The day-to-day management of the Kaliseum is under the direction of Cooley, who reports to the eight-member Sports Authority Board. The Board in turn reports to the County Commission.

Commissioner Margaret McCully says the county will benefit from the Kaliseum.

“I just talked to someone today who, up until this time, has been leery about the building,” she said. “Now her kids and grandkids use it. It’s part of the community.”

The pool opened on Feb. 14 after passing an inspection by the state on Feb. 1. It’s a major hit with residents, especially kids, but getting the pool opened was a major feat.

When it was built, the floor was not sloped properly, impeding drainage and costing the county thousands of dollars in lost revenue from the delays.

Despite the problems, Cooley, who relocated from Grand Rapids to this area for the position, is excited about the complex.

“I’ve been involved with the start-up and building of other rinks, and the aesthetics and coordination of all the plans for this one, and the usage of space, is by far the best I’ve been involved with,” he said, adding. “It’s an awesome building.”

Call (231) 258-5913 for information and schedules. BIZNEWS