If you’re from West Michigan, you know we’re currently in poor shape when it comes to finding places to both train and trial for dog agility. In the winter, there’s nothing indoors and heated. In the summer, there’s nothing air-conditioned. The Michigan climate needs both. A non-profit group called West Michigan Dog Sports is working hard to change that. But Cedar Rock Sports Plex beat them to it when it comes to offering a facility for competitions.
Enter Cedar Rock Sports Plex for Agility Trials
Just north of Grand Rapids in Cedar Springs Michigan is a facility called Cedar Rock SportsPlex that houses a turf for soccer and field hockey, and an ice arena for ice hockey. The facility is not new but has suffered from a lack of maintenance until recently. In 2023 it acquired new owner/managers, although the grapevine has it that the final sale is not yet complete. Regardless, since the new owner/managers took over, they made numerous repairs to the roof, flooring, the heating system, and more. They claim they are not done yet!
Between indoor soccer and field hockey, their practices and games fill up the fall and spring seasons, so being able to rent the facility for an agility trial in February was a big deal for the Grand Rapids Agility Club’s February trial. Their first trials held there were in 2023 but I did not visit until February 2024. I was pleasantly surprised as somehow I’d previously received misinformation about this location concerning size, crating, insufficient space to watch, and more.
It was extremely easy to find with plenty of flat, blacktopped parking space. At the Friday trial there was plenty of parking space, but it quickly filled for Saturday and Sunday trials when numerous ice hockey events were held at the same time. The entry door was quite obvious as I entered the door with “FIELD” above it, as opposed to “ICE”. The back of the field ring was immediately in front of me, so I turned left and walked behind some risers and through the cafeteria to get to the ring entry and crating area.
The ring is very long and there’s plenty of space to house both the agility ring and crating, so you’ll set up camp right on the turf. The crating rows were well-marked with tape by the club. I noticed one person crating outside the ring in the back too. I’ve been to many trials where most people were crated in very narrow passageways outside the ring due to lack of space. Fortunately, this was not the instance here. If the trial were full, and it was winter so no one could crate from their car, I could see the need for more crating in the aisles. Some people prefer the quieter setting anyway.
The Agility Ring
The 70′ ring width is a little on the narrow side for agility. To keep a nice flow going without long and narrow runs up and down is a creative strategy designed by the judge. Don Farage from Memphis TN, our judge for this trial, did an excellent job on the courses, ensuring we never noticed the narrowness.
The turf floor is older and extremely “dirty”. The black dusty infill stuck to dog paws, shoes, and tarps. Anyone who held their dog in their lap had filthy clothes afterward. One of the pre-run announcements indicated there were plans to completely replace the turf floor this year, but I heard a comment that they said the same thing last year. Hopefully.
There were some areas where the turf had been cut and then fastened down again, but nothing that caused issues during my run. I also did not notice faster dogs sliding, which is very important to their safety. It seemed to have some give as well, unlike mat floors or rug-like turf floors I’ve experienced.
There is a solid barrier about 3 feet high around the entire ring with plexiglass above it. The club had supplied gating across the entry side between the ring and the crating area. The new lighting that was recently installed is very good and I had no trouble seeing clearly during my runs.
Cedar Springs has grown over the last decade and has many new hotels, restaurants, stores, and even a dog park.
There’s a newer Holiday Inn in the area that accepts dogs. Check out the new dog-friendly hotel feature on this site to find hotels and their paw reviews given by agility trial competitors. Also, consider leaving a review for any hotels you visit in your agility trial journey to help make this feature more helpful to all competitors.
Dry RV camping was permitted in the Sports Plex parking lot during a CPE trial held last year, but it is unknown if it is allowed all the time. During ice hockey season it would take up quite a few spaces. It might be allowed on the road though, since the street ends right after the arena and the only traffic is for the facility. There are also two campgrounds nearby: Duke Creek and Cedar Springs RV Resort. The latter is just off the U.S. 131 Cedar Springs exit and allows non-campers to empty their waste tanks for a minimal fee.
Restaurants and other area activities
Most restaurants are near the 17 Mile Road/US 131 exit, north of the facility. There are numerous popular take-out chains from which to choose. If you’d like to venture a little farther south to the small town of Rockford, you can try The Corner Bar’s “world famous” hot dogs. The meat does have a slightly different flavor and their chilli-type sauce is unique. You can even get your name on a wall plaque if you eat at least 25 of them in one sitting. Sorry, only humans are eligible—not our k9s.
Nearby Morely Park has nice green areas and picnic tables and Riggle Park is a newer dog park in Cedar Springs. For general shopping, there’s a Meijer store just to the east of the Cedar Springs expressway exit.
Overall, the Cedar Rock Sports Plex is a great alternative for West Michigan. It will be much better once they get a new, cleaner turf though! Check out more about agility trialing at Cedar Rock Sports Plex.