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IMR Athletics on track to construct specialized sports training facility in south Lansing

LANSING, Ill. (May 27, 2023) – After finishing up his football playing days at Iowa State University and then Southern University in LA, Jason Griffin knew he wanted to continue in sports even if playing pro ball wasn’t in his future.

The Thornridge High School (Class of ’98) graduate found his niche by becoming a strength and conditioning coach, working with the then-Oakland Raiders (NFL), later in the New York Mets (MLB) organization and with the Chicago White Sox Amateur City Elite (ACE) program.

Starting and growing IMR

In March of 2018, Griffin started IMR Athletics Sports Performance after a thought popped into his head.

“If I’m able to do it at the highest level with professional teams, how can I be impactful to help student athletes here in the Chicagoland area?” Griffin said.

Griffin has done just that by working with athletes in 14 different sports to get bigger, stronger, and faster in a space he leases at the Southland Center in Lynwood.

But now Griffin’s business has outgrown that shared space.

He said IMR Athletics started working with about 318 athletes its first year.

“This past February we had 1,018,” Griffin said.

He counts Ed Howard, a Lynwood native and 2020 first-round pick of the Chicago Cubs, among notable IMR Athletics clients.

Jason Griffin, owner of IMR Athletics, presents on his plan to bring a large sports training facility to Lansing at a Lansing Village Board meeting on April 18. (Photo: Josh Bootsma)

Looking to Lansing

Wanting more room and a desire to own his own facility led Griffin to look toward Lansing and unused property at 3125 Glenwood-Lansing Road, near the Lansing Municipal Airport.

“He’s received approval for the special use permit, which is needed because he has an indoor recreational use in a B2 zoning district,” Lansing Village Administrator Dan Podgorski said.

A building left on the site from when the Lansing Cut Stone company operated there will have to come down and a soil investigation has to be conducted, but most hurdles have been cleared for Griffin to proceed with his vision that is 14 years in the making.

IMR Athletics is planning to construct a 56,358 square foot sports training facility at 3125 Glenwood Lansing Road, the one-time home of Lansing Cut Stone. (Photo Josh Bootsma, 2021)

Premier plans

This rendering shows how IMR Athletics will fit into the uniquely-shaped property once home to Lansing Cut Stone. (Photo: Josh Bootsma)

Griffin plans to build a 56,358 square foot facility that sits on five acres of land.

There, local residents and athletes will see a new and improved IMR Athletics that will have an increased focus on health and wellness recovery.

“You’ll have more technology, more innovative training equipment,” Griffin said.

He also wants to go beyond sports performance training by creating a kind of one-stop facility. In addition to athletic courts, cages and turf, Griffin has plans for an academic center where athletes can study in their downtime in a computer lab and also a gaming lounge for relaxation.

Griffin said the new place will even contain a Wilson Sporting Goods retail store.

It could also host some small-sized sports tournaments.

“The biggest thing was like, how do we create a safe haven environment for all the violence that goes on now in this day and age that will be able to keep our student athletes under one roof in the prime hours of three o’clock (to) eight o’clock,” Griffin said.

Griffin, who grew up in Harvey but now calls Tinley Park home, said there will be nothing else like the new facility within a 30-mile radius.

“We’ve got a lot of great talent in Lansing and our Chicagoland area, but some places are too far to commute,” Griffin said.

The sports training facility will include various spaces for training, therapy, and relaxation, as well as a Wilson retail shop. (Photo: Josh Bootsma)

IMR meaning

Griffin explained that IMR stands for Iris Marie Robinson, his beloved and supportive grandmother who passed away in 2017, but not before teaching him not to take no for an answer.

“Everything I do is for her,” Griffin said.

Unique development at south end of town

Podgorski said the village sees welcoming Griffin and his business to Lansing as a great opportunity. He said new development is often focused on Ridge Road and Torrence Avenue.

“He serves over a thousand student athletes and we see this as a destination driver, something unique that is really going to bring some new development and some activity to that end of Lansing,” Podgorski said.

A trucking company had previously tried to inhabit the same site, but an attempt to re-zone the area was not successful and Podgorski said it was not a good fit for the neighborhood.

He said everything at Griffin’s facility will be contained indoors and will offer a “less intensive” use than a trucking company would with a residential area nearby.

“From the pictures, it will certainly add an aesthetic value and improvement to the area,” Podgorski said.

Griffin said if all goes well there could possibly be a groundbreaking in the fall.

“We’re really excited to have Jason move into Lansing,” Podgorski said. “He’s a dynamic individual.”

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Paul Czapkowicz
Paul Czapkowicz
Paul Czapkowicz has served as a correspondent for the Northwest Indiana Times, so he is familiar with local politics, local business, and local goings-on in general. His training as a teacher gives him an innate sense of how to present facts in an organized and meaningful way, so readers gain understanding of complex subjects.