Valley church adds huge sports complex

Posted: June 2, 2012 at 7:14 pm

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GRAND CHUTE (AP) - Appleton Alliance Church will use aerobics classes, weight lifting and other physical fitness activities to connect the community with God when it opens its new sports and recreation complex in June.

Dubbed Xcel Sports, the facility is part of a $22 million, 120,000-square-foot expansion project called Finishing the Work. The expansion, scheduled for completion in summer 2013, will nearly triple the church's size from 60,000 square feet to about 160,000 square feet and is the largest non-governmental project in Wisconsin, said Marty Myse, the Christian church's building chairman.

The sports complex, which opens June 11, will feature a gymnasium and fitness center offering activities such as women's aerobics and spinning classes as well as recreational opportunities for families, children and the church's youth ministries.

The Rev. Dennis Episcopo, the church's senior pastor, said Alliance began building a sports ministry in 2006 - years before deciding to construct a sports facility. The church already boasts soccer fields and a basketball court that hosts a large outdoor basketball league every Sunday night.

Youth basketball camps attract more than 400 children to the church each summer.

"We wanted to have sports and rec as a way to connect people to God," Episcopo said. "They may not come to a church service, but no problem."

That church has run camps, leagues and special events for the past six years. "We have about 2,000 participants per year, with about 80 percent of those people being from outside Appleton Alliance," said Ryan Borowicz, head of the sports ministry program at Alliance. "The sportsplex really broadens the number and type of activities we can offer, as well as being a great resource for the other ministries of the church, particularly the children and the youth."

The sports ministry - an outreach to the community for those who may not know Jesus, but would like to - is keeping with the church's vision of connecting people with God and one another, Myse said.

"It's an opportunity to reach them through a sporting event, basketball or whatever," he said.

Plenty of people attend services at Appleton Alliance each week, and the expansion will add much-needed space to the overflowing church. Appleton Alliance ministers to more than 3,000 people during its four Sunday services, and attendance is growing.

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Valley church adds huge sports complex

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