Sports Illustrated withdraws resort proposal for site but 'fully intends to be in Ann Arbor'

Posted at 12:51 PM, Jan 31, 2024
and last updated 2024-01-31 12:51:23-05

ANN ARBOR, Mich. (WXYZ) — The city of Ann Arbor could soon become one of the first college towns with a Sports Illustrated resort.

Right now, the company has two resorts — one opening soon in Orlando, Florida, and another in the Dominican Republic. The company is looking to expand to college towns with major sports programs including Tuscaloosa, Alabama, and now Ann Arbor. 

In a public meeting Monday night, the CEO of Sports Illustrated Resorts, who is also an Ann Arbor resident, said the project would cost over $200 million and would bring a roughly 16-story resort to downtown.

“We are an attraction. We have literally been given dollars from states because they looked at us and said you’re not just a hotel, you’re an attraction that is going to stand out,” Sports Illustrated CEO Chris Schroeder said.

The resort would use the Sports Illustrated brand and their catalog of images to have it Michigan-themed, highlighting the success of athletics in the state.

“Michael Phelps, Tom Brady, etc., all these different people that come through, and we can highlight and really showcase Ann Arbor and the University of Michigan-tie in a whole different way than ever before,” Schroeder said.

It would bring hotel and conference space, along with condos, dining and event space for the public and for Sports Illustrated events.

The proposed site for the resort was the Kline Lot in downtown Ann Arbor. However, on Wednesday, Chris Schroeder said they are withdrawing form that site but evaluating other sites.

They "fully intend to be in Ann Arbor," Schroeder said in a statement.

But not everyone is in favor of the project. Many residents voiced concerns about the project.

“Why would the city be partnering with an organization that is restructuring right now and perhaps, best known for exploiting women in a swimsuit issue? Is that our brand in Ann Arbor?” resident Jeff Hayner said during the meeting Monday night. 

Some say it doesn't fit with downtown and others have issues with the brand or a desire to bring more affordable housing downtown instead.

“We need to stop kicking the affordable-housing can down the road and make opportunity for people who work here to live here,” resident Doug Aikenhead said.

Monday’s meeting was just to provide information about the project. There are still many more steps and public meetings that need to happen before the project gets a green light.