FRANKLIN, Tenn. (WKRN) – After purchasing Franklin’s A-Game facility in 2008, Sports Land Group, LLC abruptly closed its doors Thursday morning.
The group bought the facility for $8 million and said it invested $13 million in upgrades.
Sports Land Group said in a release that the facility “has never generated a profit” and averages a monthly shortfall of over $72,000.
The group said they hoped to keep the facility open until March 2016 in a press release issued Wednesday.
But on Thursday, barricade signs in front of the facility said it was closed.
Franklin police issued a statement Thursday morning that A-Game had hired a police officer to “stand by to ensure things remained cordial during the retrieval” as people arrived to collect their belongings.
When word of the closure spread and more people began to arrive, four additional officers responded to the scene.
At the request of the building’s owners, the parking lot remains closed and only those with belongings inside were granted access to the lot and building.
Thursday evening, dozens of residents whose sports teams lived at the A-Game facility organized a rally to share their voice and concern.
“This is just a show of solidarity,” said Athena West, who showed up to the protest. Her 8-year-old son played hockey at A-Game.
West said her family moved to Franklin last year so that they would be close to the facility. “It literally had a big part of where we decided to move and when we found out it was closing we couldn’t believe it,” she said.
“I hope they reconsider what the effects are on the community,” said Jeff Wismer, the director of Alliance Volleyball. He had a lease until September 2017.
“A clear relocation plan and resources to do that were never outlined never communicated,” he told News 2.
Linde La Chance, a nationally ranked pairs figure skater, said “It wasn’t OK for them to do it this way.”
La Chance was a coach at A-Game and had been training at the facility since she was six years old.
“We’ll go wherever we can. There’s limited ice at Centennial, limited ice at Ford. We are going to try to keep our program up, try to keep figure skating alive in the south where it’s not easy, there’s not a rink around every corner. This is a huge loss for us,” said La Chance.
The business said it attempted to find a buyer who would continue to operate the facility but was not successful.
Sports Land Group said it encouraged MDG Management and Alliance Volleyball Club, both tenants of the facility, to make a proposal to purchase the facility and to spread the word that the facility would be sold.
No viable proposal was ever submitted, according to Sports Land Group.
The group has been working with MDG and Alliance since July, 2015, to plan for their futures after the sale to Neyer and the closure of the facility.
Those efforts have included negotiating a delayed transfer of the facility to allow for Alliance and MDG to wind up their sports seasons, offering the reimbursement of Alliance’s and MDG’s relocation costs, and offering other incentives.
Those efforts to reach a consensus with Alliance and MDG proceeded up to the filing of a lawsuit by Alliance and MDG, and have continued since the filing of the lawsuit, up to as recently as February 2, 2016.
Sports Land Group said it is still striving to reach a mutually satisfactory resolution with MDG and Alliance.
The business said it was disappointed that the “facility must close on such short notice and in a manner that disrupts the ongoing sports seasons.”
Sports Land Group said it intends to keep the power on in the facility for a few days to assist Alliance, MDG, and others in their transitioning from the facility to new locations.
On Friday, News 2 learned Alliance Volleyball and MDG are asking a Williamson County judge to keep the facility open.