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Tribune-Review (Greensburg, PA)
Developers of a field house in Penn Township have big plans for an athletic mecca that would draw visitors from Western Pennsylvania and beyond for tournaments and other sporting events.
The proposed $50 million, 140,000-square-foot Bushy Run Field House will have two basketball courts and an indoor turf field large enough for a regulation soccer game, along with adjoining facilities that could include a restaurant, fitness center, golf simulator, day care center and sports medicine office, depending on which tenants are brought in, according to the developers.
The project is the result of a partnership between Weaver Investments and Commercial Choice Realty, both of Murrysville.
Glen Weaver of Weaver Investments has been buying land in Bushy Run Corporate Park and building warehouse and office spaces for two years. He recently purchased another lot with the intention to do more of the same. But as he researched potential land uses, he decided to build an athletic facility as the centerpiece of the new development.
"The need for field houses in communities like this is striking," he said.
Sporting organizations would rent space for events and tournaments, which could bring teams to the area from outside Pennsylvania and help foster tourism, said David Reese of Commercial Choice Realty.
"We can draw from the tri-state area for tournaments," he said.
The youth sports tourism industry generated $10.4 billion in spending in 2016, the Associated Press reported, calling it a "recession-proof" industry that has become a major focus of developers and local governments.
The Bushy Run Field House would be modeled on the Cool Springs Sports Complex in Bethel Park, which opened in 2015, according to Weaver.
That multi-purpose sports facility is on 58 acres in Pittsburgh's South Hills. It features an indoor sports complex with a field that can accommodate football, soccer and lacrosse, basketball and volleyball courts, a fitness center as well as a cafe and a banquet facility. Allegheny Health Network's Sports Performance program also is on-site.
Other features include indoor golf simulators, a two-story turfed driving range, miniature golf, a restaurant and a sports bar.
In Westmoreland County, the Hempfield Township Athletic Complex has three multi-purpose athletic playing fields, a walking track and fitness classes and hosts indoor basketball, soccer, cheerleading, Wiffle ball and tennis.
But there is demand for more indoor athletic facilities, said Jason Rigone, the county's director of planning and development.
"I believe the investment, or at least the proposed investment, will be an asset to the county, and obviously specifically to Penn Township," he said. "We have a lack of quality facilities like the one proposed in Southwestern Pennsylvania, and this investment can only be viewed as an improvement. We are behind the times in Southwestern Pennsylvania."
Penn Township manager Alex Graziani also welcomed the plan.
"If they're able to pull it together, I think it would be a great addition to the township. It seems that where these centers have been built, they're able to stay busy, and the nice thing is it spins off to other businesses," he said, pointing to the hoped-for effect sports tourism would have on nearby hotels and restaurants.
The township has a tax break program for developments in the Bushy Run Corporate Park. The field house would pay reduced property taxes for five years after completion.
Work on the Penn Township field house is slated to begin in June, with the facility opening in summer 2019, according to Weaver.
"We're ready to start pushing dirt as soon as we get the permitting," he said.
Jacob Tierney is a Tribune-Review staff writer. Reach him at 724-836-6646, email@example.com or via Twitter @Soolseem.
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