Among Jannie Scott’s goals for the Michigan Mayhem, which plans to begin playing this fall in the Continental Basketball Association, is to help further boost downtown by drawing people to the business district through affordable, family-oriented sports entertainment.
Scott wants to create jobs and help business development in downtown Muskegon, which in recent years has already drawn millions of dollars in new investments and has millions more pending, most notably the redevelopment of the Muskegon Mall property into a commercial and residential neighborhood and the development of the Edison Landing residential and commerce park along nearby Muskegon Lake.
“You work in a place, you want to see it grow,” Scott said. “You want to see it be a destination point.”
The minor-league basketball franchise recently signed a one-year lease to play in the downtown Walker Arena. If successful in its first year, the franchise will likely look to sign a longer term lease of three or four years to play there. The arena is also the home of the minor league hockey team Muskegon Fury.
Scott, who with her husband, Arthur, operates nine McDonald’s fast-food restaurants in the area through JAAR Inc., was awarded a CBA team in November, becoming the first African-American woman to own a majority interest in a professional sports franchise. The eight-team CBA, based in Boise, Idaho, tips off its 58th season this fall.
“The CBA is looking for solid ownership groups who receive a great deal of community support for professional basketball to be played in a quality arena in their market, and we have definitely found that combination here in Muskegon,” CBA Commissioner Gary Hunter said in announcing the franchise award last November.
To succeed, the Michigan Mayhem needs to average about 3,500 fans per game at the 5,100-seat Walker Arena. The team also needs to pre-sell 1,000 season tickets, Scott said.
Sales so far are “going great,” she said. “We’re well on our way.”
With the arena deal secured and a front office in place, Scott is now working on preparing for the 2004-05 season and putting the team together.
Beyond her business interests, Scott is heavily involved in the Muskegon community. She serves on the boards at Mercy General Health Partners and Muskegon Workforce Development, and has served on the boards of the Greater Muskegon Urban League, the Downtown Muskegon Business Association and the Muskegon Community Health Project.
Scott ventured into bringing a CBA franchise to town because it’s “something different,” and she believes there’s a strong market for professional basketball in Muskegon.
“It’s a great fit for Muskegon,” she said.