Gun Lake Casino recently announced it will help sponsor the world’s largest Special Olympics training facility.
Thanks to a $2.5 million sponsorship from Gun Lake Casino and the Gun Lake tribe, work on the grounds and outdoor training facility will be completed later this year.
The facility, known as the Unified Sports & Inclusion Center, is located at 68th Street SW in Byron Township.
Formerly the campus of South Christian High School, Special Olympics Michigan purchased the facility and property in 2019 to transform it into a training venue. The facility includes a 127,000-square foot complex, the largest of its type in the world.
Gun Lake Casino invests $2.5 million for Michigan training facility
Gun Lake Casino‘s investment has allowed Special Olympics Michigan to make swift progress with their facility plans.
Phase one of the project was completed in 2022. A total of 10 tenant organizations are operating in the facility.
Phase two, which includes completion of the outdoor complex, will begin this summer.
“Gun Lake Casino has been a huge advocate for inclusion in our community, supporting numerous organizations that have put Michigan on the map in exciting ways during the past decade,” Tim Hileman, President & CEO of Special Olympics Michigan said in a press release. “This partnership between Gun Lake Casino and Special Olympics Michigan shows what happens when we are all truly invested in making Michigan a leader both in inclusion and community.”
Gun Lake Tribe Chairman Bob Peters was excited to announce the partnership and commitment to Special Olympics Michigan.
“This partnership with Special Olympics Michigan is a natural extension of Gun Lake Tribe’s commitment to building an inclusive community,” Peters said. “We are proud to join forces with such a powerful movement and help manifest its mission within the Unified Sports and Inclusion Center—a world first!”
Special Olympics Michigan aids over 23,000 athletes
The Special Olympics was founded in the late 1960s by Eunice Kennedy Shriver, and has grown to become the largest sports organization serving people with intellectual disabilities and physical disabilities.
The organization puts on more than 100,000 events worldwide annually, and athletes compete in 32 sports. The Special Olympics motto is “Let me win. But if I cannot win, let me be brave in the attempt.”
Special Olympics is unique in that it strives to encourage athletes of all abilities to participate. Competitors are placed in groups based on similar skill levels based on entry scores. In this manner, many different levels of skill (even beginner) can be represented in athletic competition.
Special Olympics Michigan offers sports training, instruction, and competitions year-round for in excess of 23,000 children and adults with intellectual and physical disabilities in the state. That makes it one of the largest and most active Special Olympics programs in the United States.
The Special Olympics World Summer Games will take place in June in Berlin, Germany. Held every two years, the event draws thousands of athletes ages eight and up from more than 150 nations worldwide.
Gun Lake adding hotel and Aquadome in Michigan
Gun Lake Casino is located in Wayland, north of Kalamazoo. It’s owned and operated by the Match-E-Be-Nash-She-Wish Band of Pottawatomi.
The casino is currently undergoing a $300 million renovation that will be completed in 2025. Included in the renovation plans is a new 15-floor hotel and an Aquadome. The Aquadome will feature three indoor pools but also serve as a concert venue and banquet center.
Overall, the expansion project has been estimated to add 350 jobs. It also is projected to have a $650 million economic impact on the state of Michigan.
In other Gun Lake news, in late 2022 the casino was able to reopen its poker room that had been closed for more than two years due to the COVID-19 pandemic.