Multi-sport facility opens in Murrysville
Lee Hammer came to Murrysville SportZone and Dek Hockey more than three years ago, just as the organization was preparing to embark on planning and construction of a new facility.
While work isn't completely done, he's beginning to see the fruits of those efforts.
The new 30,000-square-foot facility opened late last month, and teams competing in everything from inline and dek hockey to pickleball already are using it.
“It's almost a relief, but I'm not quite done yet,” said Hammer, general manager of Murrysville SportZone and Dek Hockey. “It is nice to see. The whole process is something, as well — you see the excavators back here with the dirt, then you see the frame, the steel go up and then you can go inside. It's been a very fun project to say the least. I've learned a lot throughout all this, as well.”
Construction work is ongoing in some parts of the facility, which Hammer expects to be fully in use sometime this month.
The new arena, located adjacent to the old facility at 4491 School Road South in Murrysville, will complement the older one, which opened nine years ago.
Hammer said SportZone's owners originally had the idea for a second arena when the first facility opened. While the facility was built mainly with inline hockey in mind — SportZone currently runs its inline leagues out of Center Ice Arena in Delmont — the arena can house more than just one sport.
In addition to inline hockey, Hammer said the facility can support dek hockey, basketball, soccer, lacrosse and volleyball, among other sports.
SportZone is offering pickleball — a sport that combines elements of badminton, tennis and table tennis — on Mondays and Thursdays at the arena. Hammer mentioned the possibility of trade shows and concerts, as well.
“With a space like this, it's very unique,” he said. “When you look at it, it's a hockey rink. But when you have an indoor space like this, you can utilize it for many different things to help benefit local organizations and the community, as well.”
Additionally, the new facility has two rooms for group fitness classes, a children's playground and office space.
Among the arena's notable qualities are stadium seating, luxury boxes and full-glass boards that allow spectators to see all the on-floor action.
“I think it's just the whole package (that's remarkable),” Hammer said. “You've got the glass, we have a top-line floor, we have stadium seating. There's not really a bad seat in the house. Everything just comes together.”
“I would have to say it's the nicest rink I've played on yet,” said Brad Krupp, 36, of Irwin, who plays for a team called “3 Bald Men and a Huffy” in Division C of SportZone's adult dek leagues. “It's similar to Hot Shots (Indoor Sports Arena in Mt. Pleasant), but it has all the glass boards, and it's a little bit smaller than Hot Shots. I like it. The one at Center Ice (Arena in Delmont) is nice, but I think the glass boards over here (are nice) — and it's brand new.”
Krupp said people come from all over to play in Murrysville's leagues, and he expects the new facility to be a bigger draw because of what it can offer.
“It's really nice to have something this close instead of having to go (a long way),” said Karen Morrow, 36, of North Huntingdon, whose husband John plays in one of SportZone's adult leagues and whose son, Luke, played in one of the children's leagues. “This is kind of the closest thing we have. There's nothing in North Huntingdon, so it's good to have (this) to use.”
A major reason for the arena's construction was the growth of all forms of hockey in Western Pennsylvania because of the Penguins' success. Murrysville SportZone offers dek hockey leagues throughout the year, and Hammer estimated about 100 dek hockey teams are competing this summer.
With the new facility, that growth is likely to continue — and not just in dek hockey.
“I think the ownership team figured that it would be a good time to offer something else and help grow the inline sport that's actually growing elsewhere in the country and bring it to Pittsburgh,” Hammer said. “We all want Pittsburgh to be the hockey capital. I think this was something they could help bring to the community to help the Penguins and local organizations facilitate their hockey needs.”