Virginia Sports Complex on Apparent Life Support

It has been a bad few weeks for SportsQuest, a proposed Chesterfield, Va., recreation complex. In mid-February, the business's owner was sued by Virginia's attorney general for improperly marketing and selling 700 memberships to an as-yet-unbuilt spa/fitness facility (owner Steve Burton had been leasing space from RISE, the Richmond Indoor Sports Experience). The suit claims SportsQuest violated Virginia code by not mentioning an opening date for the facility in its initial marketing materials and then by failing to open by the date quoted in updated marketing materials.

According to Richmond BizSense and now WTVR, Richmond's CBS affiliate, SportsQuest's troubles are multiplying. Three separate liens have been placed on the project site by contractors, and SportsQuest was listed this winter as one of Chesterfield County's largest tax delinquents, owing $75,000. (The county provided more than $4 million to get the project moving, according to the paper.) Late last week, SportsQuest's lease on its existing training center was terminated by the building's landlord for nonpayment, and the group lost its partnership with RISE, with which SportsQuest had teamed on a number of sports programs.

The Virginia Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services and the Office of Consumer Affairs began investigating SportsQuest in December 2010, according to the lawsuit. The suit alleges that SportsQuest customers prepaid $800 to $2,600 each for 36-month contracts to the club, with month-to-month contracts available for purchase for up to $250. As of early February, SportsQuest was still promoting and selling memberships with plans that charge a $75 enrollment fee and a monthly fee of about $30. The state is requesting that the business refund more than 700 memberships.

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