The World Shooting and Recreation Complex in Sparta will close as of Thursday, but its employees will keep on working.
Both the World Shooting Complex and the Illinois State Museum are slated to close indefinitely as part of the state’s budget battles. Last month, the shooting complex hosted what might be its last Grand American World Trapshooting Championship, which brings about 4,500 people to the Sparta area from around the world for what has been called the Olympics for amateur trapshooting.
The shooting complex will be closed indefinitely starting Oct. 1, according to Chris Young, spokesman for the Illinois Department of Natural Resources, which runs both the shooting complex and the state museum. The complex is about 9 years old and employs nine people. Young said the Sparta complex costs $3 million a year to operate and only brings in about $1.1 million.
But opponents of its closure have said the actual impact of the complex is much greater than the state’s shortfall, with the number of people who travel to Southern Illinois for its 80 events each year.
$3 millionThe amount it costs to operate the World Shooting Complex each year.
The Illinois State Museum in Springfield is also slated to close, but its employees will remain at work and on the state payroll as arbitration continues in St. Clair County courts over the legality of the layoffs. Of 151 people laid off, about 107 were in the IDNR.
State spokeswoman Lyndsey Walters said during the arbitration period, some museum staff will be working behind the scenes to make sure existing collections are organized and maintained, while the rest will be placed in temporary positions that have yet to be determined.
Young said the nine Sparta workers will be completing winterization work at the shooting complex after its closure. As union employees, they will remain on the job while the court case is in arbitration, he said.
Young said only the shooting sports area and RV campground will be closed; the main event building, restaurant, shooting hall of fame and access to boat ramps will remain open. “We hope this is a temporary closure,” he said.
The 1,600-acre property is a reclaimed strip mine with a campground and more than 120 shooting fields, as well as fishing lakes and an event center. Recently, the shooting complex had signed a contract with the Amateur Trapshooting Association to host the Grand American competition through 2026.