After traveling with their children’s teams from one arena to the next, three local soccer dads have decided to open an indoor sports center to give M.O.T. athletes a place to play.
The Middletown Sports Complex will house several fields in the back half of the Bob Wagner Flooring warehouse off of U.S. Route 301.
The back half of the building, which canvases about 15,000 square-feet with ceilings 30-feet high, will have two fields. One will be a large multi-purpose field that can host a variety of sports including soccer, baseball, and lacrosse. The smaller field will be used for a variety of other sports including kickball and dodge ball.
“We realize how much sports is needed in town,” said Chief Financial Officer and Middletown resident Brian Ellis “There is nothing like this in 30-miles.”
He said they plan on having a soft opening towards the end of June. They are planning three grand-openings for sometime in either July or August – one for each of their main sports.
Having an indoor arena gives athletes a one-up over the elements. They can continue to play even if the temperatures soar or snow falls.
Ellis, along with Chief Operating Officer Brian Laity and President Scott Lobdell, all have elementary school aged children who play on traveling soccer teams.
Sometimes, their children and their peers have to travel up to an hour to play soccer, baseball or lacrosse in their traveling leagues or just to use the batting cages for practice.
Laity, a Middletown resident, fears this is the reason M.O.T. athletes are being lost to other clubs out of the area.
“With this open, Middletown will get stronger and we’ll be able to keep the kids here,” he said.
The complex’s main field will be able to be netted off into batting cages. The large field is long enough that it can be split down the middle, they said. They plan on putting five nets across it for pitching and batting practicing.
The sports complex will have more than just places to play ball. The three partners are renting out part of the front half of the Bob Wagner warehouse as well, where they will have sitting room, party areas and concession stands.
“We’re kicking around a lot of ideas,” Ellis said.
One of these ideas even involves putting in a two-chair barbershop where parents can get a hair cut while they wait for their children. The men said their wives are not opposed to a massage parlor either.
Once the center is up and running, they plan on employing about 15 people. There will also be referees on the payroll that will work per-diem.
Page 2 of 2 - Trainers have been expressing interest in using the space.
Another unique perk of the sports complex will be in-house video, Lobdell said.
“You’ll be able to see the field streaming on our website,” he said. “Grandparents can watch the kids.”
Being from Pittsburgh originally, Laity says that his parents can’t see enough of their grandson play.
Down the road he says they are also toying with the idea of opening a training facility on site. If things go well, they may also expand to having outdoor fields.
To start though, there will be leagues offered for children, adults and seniors and free play for anyone who wants to pay a small price to run around for an hour.
During the school year, the men plan on being open from 3 p.m. – 10 p.m., but during the summer time their hours will be extended. On weekends, they will probably open around 8 a.m.
The trio plans on hosting summer sports camps at the Sports Complex, so they plan on being open from noon to midnight during these seasons.
The town of Middletown approved a conditional use permit last month for the Middletown Sports Complex. They have also received approval from the state fire marshal’s office. The only thing left to do is to apply for a building permit from the town.
A Facebook presence has already been made by the new business using what the men call their “text-talk name”: MTownSC.
As of last week, the trio was finalizing the kind of synthetic grass turf they will be using for the fields. Equipment will be supplied to players and the plan is to have jerseys for adults participating in free play.
“We want to bring people in the sports world ideas to best suit their needs,” Ellis said.