Group looking into Olympic-style training center for Marathon Co - WAOW - Newsline 9, Wausau News, Weather, Sports

Group looking into Olympic-style training center for Marathon County

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MARATHON COUNTY (WAOW) -

A group called the U.S. Sports Development Group is looking into building a sports complex in Marathon County. The announcement came at a tourism event at the Hilton Garden Inn in Rib Mountain Thursday evening.

"We would like to bring a world class multi-purpose sports and entertainment events center here," said Val Belmonte, the President and CEO of the U.S. Sports Development Group. "Where we could have sports, training, recreational, high level, international events. It's kind of an all encompassing complex."

The group is headed by two men from Chicago and Minneapolis, both of whom have backgrounds in coaching Division One hockey and administering college sports, authorities said Thursday.

US Sports Development Group was founded in Chicago about two years ago and a third leader is an architect in Minneapolis, authorities said.

"They are like a research company that finds locations to build Olympic-style training centers," said Richard Barrett, executive director of the Central Wisconsin and Visitor's Bureau. "Their mission is to help and promote amateur sports growth and development."

The group looked at other cities in Wisconsin, Iowa and Minnesota before settling on Wausau to a months-long feasibility study, said Jim Warsaw, executive director of MCDEVCO, an economic development group in Marathon County.

"I'm still stunned, because the secret sauce in this area is the people, the culture, the pride that you have, the things that you put on, how you do it, the way you tackle and event and a challenge, it's amazing," said Belmonte.

Some ideas being discussed include a 5,000-seat arena - large enough for concerts and other entertainment - plus minor league hockey, Warsaw said. 

The Wausau project would be the group's first, he said. But one of its leaders, Val Belmonte of Chicago, was originally involved in a similar project proposed in Fishers, Ind., but pulled out of it and organized a new group.

Belmonte first visited Wausau some four years ago, Warsaw said.

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