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Owner of Farmington Hills basketball practice facility weighs how to stay safe, reopen

FARMINGTON HILLS, Mich. – With so many small business owners feeling the financial impact of coronavirus, one man has a unique perspective.

Fred Procter is a basketball coach running a practice facility in Farmington Hills. He said he’s lost nearly a dozen friends and family members to COVID-19.

He opened the The Practice Zone about three years ago with his son. Procter said just before the virus hit, the business turned a corner and had some of its best months.

UPDATE -- May 17, 2020: Michigan coronavirus (COVID-19) cases up to 51,142; Death toll now at 4,891

“Virtually every day we had someone new stopping in saying, ‘Hey, I just heard about the place,’” Procter said.

Since mid-March, the shooting and ball handling zones have been empty. He’s worried the business won’t survive the pandemic and they might have to close for good.

“If you ask me, you know, ‘Would you give up another month or two to make sure that people stay safe?’ I definitely do,” Procter said.

He feels that way after losing nearly a dozen people to COVID-19.

“I’ve had good friends, I’ve had people who I’ve worked with for years, I’ve had family members who passed away,” Procter said.

He said his grief has shifted his priorities, even with his own business on the line.

“This is real,” Procter said. “When people are protesting because they want to open up things and they say, ‘Hey, if I get it, I’ll just I’ll just recover from it?’ Maybe you know because people have recovered but there’s an awful lot of people who are healthy and vibrant and couldn’t recover.”

Procter is hopeful there’s a way to keep people safe and reopen.

“Don’t forget that there was a time when we, when we said, ‘Hey, no shoes, no shirt, no service,’ right? And people didn’t get up in arms,” Procter said. “Just add masks to that. Okay? No masks, no shoes, no shirt, no service.”

No matter what happens, the father of four is proud of the community he built on his court.

“We’d walk away being successful, because we built something from scratch,” Procter said. “But it would be disappointing that we’d have to walk away from the people who we meet on a daily basis.”

Procter said if they can reopen, players would have to get their temperature checked, wash their hands and wear masks.

More information on The Practice Zone can be found on its official website here.

Anyone who believes they might have coronavirus should follow the CDC guidelines. Michigan.gov has a list of resources available to those concerned about COVID-19.

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