Less than a year after the Spire Institute in Geneva, Ohio went up for sale, a buyer has been announced. Axxela, LLC, an investment firm based in Baltimore, Maryland, has acquired the facility.
The Spire Institute is a $100-million-plus multi-sport indoor and outdoor athletics training and competition facility located about 45 miles east of Cleveland. Current facilities include 750,000 square feet of indoor and outdoor arenas and competition space.
That includes a 10-lane indoor 50 meter pool with raised spectator seating. 8 high schools use the pool as their home facility; the Lake Erie Silver Dolphins practice there as well.
Speaking more broadly, the facility is home to a FINA scholarship training enter, where athletes from around the world are given the opportunity to live and train at SPIRE and have access to facilities and training that aren’t available in their home countries. The facility is also scheduled to host the 2020 NCAA Division II Swimming & Diving Championships.
As for how the change in ownership will impact the facility’s future, Ted Meekma of Ted Meekma Consult LLC, one of two men tasked with taking leading strategic roles with the new facility, says that they do plan to honor all existing facility hosting commitments already on the books, and plan to continue to host major swim meets.
Meekma says that the new operating group is exploring creating new “proprietary events” that they will either own or run as a joint venture partner.
The new ownership group also plans to expand the facility’s role as a residential and academy facility. Meekma says that they will expand their swim camp business as they add on-site residential boarding facilities and will also be looking to grow the swim club training business.
Rich O’Dell will be leading the expansion of Spire’s academic programming, allowing it to take on a model where youth athletes live, train, and go to school in one facility designed to meet the needs of more elite-caliber trainees. This has been a long-tested model in soccer, but in the last decade has expanded to a number of other sports, including in Spire’s case, basketball.
According to Meekma, O’Dell’s approach to education “utilizes a four legged ‘learning, passion, personal growth and career development’ model that maximizes a student’s ability to exceed expectations in all aspects of his/her life.”
It’s most recent famous resident is LaMelo Ball, the younger brother of Lonzo Ball of the Los Angeles Lakers. Arguably the most famous high school basketball player since LeBron James, LaMelo Ball briefly turned pro then returned to high school competition.