SPRINGFIELD, Mo. – A more than a century-old building in downtown Springfield will soon be closing operations on March 31, 2023.
Leaders said the Ward Downtown YMCA continues to operate at a loss, with declining membership and high expenses.
“I would say that from a business perspective, it was a clear decision that any business would make based on the data, but it was very difficult as it relates to the human being aspect,” said Virginia Gimlen with the Y.
People who frequent the downtown location said the news is sad.
“I came down here when I was a little kid for swimming lessons and played basketball and still work out here to this day,” said Roddy Rogers, who said he has a lot of memories at the facility.
Gimlen said the property is still on the market, but it can’t keep operating at a financial loss.
“We once had a strong student population, for example, that worked out here, but the local universities have built up their fitness centers,” she said. “Most of the new apartments downtown, and the studios, have really nice gyms that the residents can work out in.”
People with a membership are being encouraged to go across town to the Pat Jones YMCA.
The hope is that the right buyer will come along for the downtown building.
“We hope someone will come in and respect and honor the building, the history of the building, but also then provide what today’s Springfield citizens need in their downtown,” said Gimlen.
Leaders said the goal is to try to shift as many employees as possible to other Y locations or help them find other job opportunities.