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Troubles Mount for Virginia’s SportsQuest

SportsQuest, Richmond, VA, has been experiencing some difficulties that include missed rent payments, an end to a partnership, an eviction from its training facility and a lawsuit from the Virginia attorney general’s office.

SportsQuest provides individuals and families in the Central Virginia region access to multiple facilities, youth and adult sports leagues, a fitness center, community events and discounted rates on sports training.

Numerous media outlets are chronicling the troubles of SportsQuest, which has had filings of mechanic’s liens for unpaid bills totaling more than $1 million since last June, the Richmond Times-Dispatch reported.

“It’s been a challenging year,” SportsQuest CEO Steve Burton told the newspaper last week. “I look forward to better days.”

Last week, SportsQuest was evicted from its Midlothian, VA, training facility, which housed a basketball court and a weightlifting facility. At the same time, the Richmond Indoor Sports Experience (RISE) ended its partnership with the company. Richmond BizSense reported that the building’s landlord took down the SportsQuest signs and told members that SportsQuest no longer operated the gym.

“Steve [Burton] always promised one more thing, but I could only take that for so long,” building owner Neil Carns, told the newspaper. “Your patience just runs out.”

SportsQuest had planned to build a 250-acre, $250 million Olympic-style sports village in Midlothian, but those efforts have been halted for the time being. Chesterfield County leaders agreed to a $4.3 million investment in the complex in the summer of 2010, the newspaper reported. The county signed a $2 million, 20-year lease for the use of soccer fields, which are in operation, but the remaining $2.3 million is for a senior center and indoor basketball court that have yet to be built, according to the newspaper.


Earlier this month, the Virginia attorney general’s office sued SportsQuest, alleging that the company violated the state’s health spa and consumer protection acts. The complaint was filed in the Circuit Court of Chesterfield County.

The lawsuit is in relation to the sports village, not the training facility, in Midlothian. In the complaint, Attorney General Ken Cuccinelli alleges that SportsQuest sold prepayment contracts from September 2009 to April 2011 without disclosing a projected opening date for the facility. After April 2011, SportsQuest also sold prepayment contracts that disclosed a projected opening date that has passed without the facility opening. Cuccinelli contends that each contract is void and unenforceable under the Health Spa Act. He is seeking restitution for consumers who bought memberships.

An investigation by the Office of Consumer Affairs revealed that as of July 9, 2011, SportsQuest had sold 725 memberships, according to the complaint. The range of fees for pre-paid 36-month contracts is from $800 to $2,600, and the fees for memberships on a month-to-month basis go as high as $249.95, according to the complaint. SportsQuest could face civil penalties of up to $2,500 per violation.

At the time of the lawsuit, Burton wrote a note on the company’s blog in which he said the company would be broken up into three units: events, the academy and memberships. Burton also wrote that two prospective groups were engaged in acquiring the academy and memberships businesses. The Times-Dispatch, however, reported that no sales have been completed.

“While we have experienced delays related to the economy and pursuit of the east campus (sports village), we are confident that we will resolve any issues through our on-going discussions,” Burton wrote on the blog.

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