Name of sports complex not appropriate for Rockford with Editor’s Response

Name of sports complex not appropriate for Rockford


“The biggest thing to happen to Rockford since they built the dam”, and we name it Art Van Sports Complex? Seriously, what does Art Van, a big chain store, have to do with Rockford? It might as well have been named Big Lots Sports Complex if you ask me.

As a resident of Rockford, and an active community member, I am so disappointed with the naming of this grand complex. Why was it not named, just simply, Rockford Sports Complex? Have we, as a community, stooped so low as to let the deepest pockets have bragging rights over naming “The biggest thing”?

This disappoints me because Rockford prides itself on just being Rockford. Rockford doesn’t need a big name to bring people to our community, and if we did, why not Wolverine’s name behind it? At least it has something to do with Rockford itself. We have all these wonderful Mom and Pop shops and as far as I understood, Rockford wanted to keep it the “small town feel”. This is not small town in my opinion and getting away from what Rockford I think means to most of us living here.

I support our little community by shopping at our stores instead of making the drive to the mall on 28th Street where I may find what I am looking for at a cheaper price. That’s not a priority for me and my family. We love Rockford and want our money that we work hard for to stay in Rockford.

On a final note, if the City of Rockford allows Art Van to put up a store by the complex, we’re moving.

Very disappointed Rockford resident

John Wenger


Editor’s Response


Sports Commission Complex not located in the City of Rockford


I thank John for sharing his opinion on the naming of the Art Van Sports Complex but I feel I have to respond. He wants to know why we would not pride ourself as a city and name this the Rockford Sports Complex.

Perhaps because of the nature of the business I run, the Rockford Squire Newspaper, I have no problem with the naming of the complex and I am extremely grateful to Art Van Eslander for seeing the value of this project and giving an incredible $1.8 million dollars. That contribution brought the West Michigan Sports Complex closer to the $7.8 million dollar goal for the construction of the fields.

It would be nice if a business in Rockford donated that money and was given naming rights, but no one from Rockford did. Had not Art Van donated, it could have been a long time before the complex had enough funding to begin construction. In addition, after already donating that initial amount and having already secured the name of the complex, the company gave another $50,000 dollars for a handicap accessible ballfield at the Nate Herwitz Miracle Field.

The field is in Rockford with an address of 3300 Ten Mile, but is also in Plainfield Township. If geography was going to rule the name game, it should be the Plainfield Township Sports Complex. Wait, since the property also was donated through Kent County, maybe it should have been the Kent County Sports Complex.

I see nothing wrong with giving credit where credit is due. Things have to be paid for or they don’t happen. As a huge supporter of all things Rockford, I nevertheless point out that this hasn’t been a City of Rockford project, although the mom and pop shops we have here will doubtless benefit from the estimated $20 million in economic impact the complex will have for West Michigan in the first five years of play.

I know the naming/giving debate isn’t new, and people seem to begrudge the wealthy philanthropists who choose to give to our community. I know people who refuse to call the White Pine Trail the Fred Meijer White Pine Trail after the foundation donated huge money to expand paving. I don’t see things that way and say more power to the family. Fred is gone now but his name lives on in the many projects he believed in. I say be grateful we have people like that.

Best regards,

Beth Altena,



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