Where in the World? Why SPIRE Institute is in Geneva, Ohio.
Back in 2008, if you asked anyone who’s anyone in sports where they’d build the country’s next sports supercenter—Geneva, Ohio wouldn’t jump from their lips. Even if you asked people in Geneva—people who faced some of the highest unemployment rates in the country and could certainly use the economic boost— chances are their hometown wouldn’t be top of mind for a sports training destination, surely not a destination that rivals the U.S. Olympic Training Centers.
That’s probably why SPIRE Institute plans seemed more rumor than reality back in 2008. When people got wind of the plans, which didn’t take long in this tight-knit community, they were skeptical. “Not in this economy, not in this location.”
SPIRE Institute Founder Ron Clutter couldn’t think of a better time or place. After all, his hometown certainly had the need. The few sports facilities they had were tattered. But it was what they didn’t have that stood out most. No soccer or baseball fields. No track and field. No aquatics center. And no indoor sports facilities. That meant when Ohio’s long, blustery winter came; training for most sports went.
Geneva wasn’t the only place that could use an indoor sports hub come winter. Since Geneva is within driving distance of two-thirds of the U.S. population, athletes from all over the country could train here. Major metropolitan areas like Columbus, Detroit, Chicago, Milwaukee, Toronto, New York, Philadelphia, Baltimore, Washington, Charlotte and Toronto are all within 500 miles.
And so, Ron Clutter set out to build a sports complex that would not only benefit Geneva athletes but also athletes from across the country. In the beginning, only a handful of people joined him. But as ground broke on the first phase of the sports complex in early 2009, things changed. The idea of a non-profit sports complex for athletes in all sports, at all levels, drew support from bricklayers, sports federations and even Olympians.
In March 2009, an empty patch of land off Interstate 90 was transformed into one of the country’s largest sports complexes. That was just the first building phase. Three phases later, thousands of athletes train and compete here year-round. And we’re on target to bring over 10,000 athletes and fans to SPIRE Institute this year with our scheduled sporting events. And our year round menu of residential training camp and academy programs haven’t even launched as of yet!
Those travelers are going to need things to do and places to eat, shop and sleep—and Geneva is ready to oblige. The community and its residents are the perfect hosts since the area’s transition from “Rustbelt” community to “budding” tourist destination. What fan or family wouldn’t enjoy wineries, boating, hunting, fishing, golf courses, trails and cultural activities along Lake Erie's shore with their next SPIRE game, tournament or championship?