The other option has a $100 enrollment fee and then costs $29 a month for 36 months. It was not clear why the upfront payment comes out to cost more than the monthly plan.
The memberships provide full access to all the facilities and fields, including leagues, Burton said. Specialized training or more elite play would likely cost more, he said.
For comparison, ACAC in Midlothian charges $87 a month for full access. Gold’s Gym, one of the most inexpensive gyms out there, charges $30 a month.
Several gym operators said that they doubt any business can operate in the black at the rates SportsQuest is charging, although the rates might be introductory and might rise once the center is open. Burton has also said the business model works because he can share revenue across divisions by combing so many sports under one roof.
Burton says he will pull regular customers from all over Richmond as well as tournaments and competitions from beyond the region.
But Brian Evans, who runs a local chain of fitness clubs called American Family Fitness, said that most suburban patrons drive 15 minutes at most to work out.
“People are looking for drive times of 10 minutes and under,” he said.
Evans also said that although he does not know the financial structure of SportsQuest, it would need “a heck of a lot of members” to maintain the facility at the rates SportsQuest is offering.
Burton is facing more pressure now that costs are ramping up. He was spending about $250,000 in 2008, according to an executive summary circulated to investors. But now he is spending more, with billboards up and radio advertisements playing all over town.
An arena football team called the Richmond Revolution, which Burton owns, is slated to start playing in March. The players make about $250 a week, and with a roster of 30, salary, travel, uniform and insurance costs are bound to mount up. The team is scheduled to play at the Arthur Ashe Center until the facilities at SportsQuest are complete.
SportsQuest has also signed an agreement with an indoor auto-racing league called Arena Racing. That will cost SportsQuest about $1.2 million to get up and running, according to Bob Kearne, president of Arena Racing. Kearne said his company expects its first payment when financing for the project is in place.
Minor league sports are a very hard business, and most fail because they do not have enough capital to last long enough to build fan support, if they are sustainable at all. Several minor league football teams have folded in Richmond, as have a handful of basketball teams.