Sportsplex Operational Plans go before the Zoning Board


At last night's Zoning Board of Adjustment meeting, Sportsplex, the proposed operational tenant of the Recycland property, discussed their plans for the development and management of an indoor sports facility in the existing abandoned warehouse next to Vidas Field.    


John K. Burns, one of six principal owners of the Sportsplex Group, testified as to what the complex might look like, how others like it are operated, and what could be available to Metuchen and neighboring communities should the plan be approved.   


Created over 10 years ago with the opening of a Rockville, Maryland facility in 1995, Sportsplex has developed a standard business model for indoor sporting facilities that includes turf fields for soccer, lacrosse, football, and field hockey; hard courts for basketball, inline hockey, and volleyball; party rooms; concessions, and an arcade. Programs offered cater to toddler-aged children through seniors and include sports league activities, sports academies and personal training, child development programs, birthday parties, summer camps and days-off from school happenings, home-school physical activity programs, and school field trip events

In addition to Rockville, Sportsplex operates facilities in Sterling, Virginia and Pottstown, PA.  Each site may differ slightly in size and amenities but follow the same, basic business model.   It was testified that Metuchen was chosen as a prime location for a new site because "Metuchen has a great demographic," explained Burns, "we've been doing market studies for six years now, we've researched scores of markets, and Metuchen has shown favorable for this type of facility."  No specific reasons were cited. 


According to Burns, his company works at teaming-up with municipal recreation departments and existing leagues.  They do not encroach upon existing rec programs by running simultaneous leagues but have, when asked, partnered to help administer them.  


The proposed Metuchen site would include two turf fields, three hard courts (that could combine to become one inline hockey court), and a small concession area.  This is one turf-field less than the standard Sportsplex model as there is not enough space to include both it and the necessary parking.  Spectator viewing would be provided for both near the fields and in a mezzanine area.  Field house curtains, nets, and retractable hoops would help divide or open the space and allow for more versatility in use.   There are no planned locker rooms with showers but rather changing rooms and lockers.  Design plans call for 183 parking spaces but Mr. Burns speculated that at most, 150 spaces would be needed at the most peak times.


The facility would employee seven full time and 20-25 part time employees.


Prime season for all three locations is winter when outdoor play ends and limited indoor space becomes more difficult to secure.   During the prime season of November though March, the complex could be open as late as 2 am, seven days per week.  Off season closing times would be midnight during the week and earlier on the weekends.  


A security system of cameras monitored at a reception desk as well as other possible locations is planned.  Security is also monitored by a system of "player-cards" that are collected from each athlete on the field, by the ref, before play can begin.   A zero-tolerance policy against fighting bans violators from the site and all employees are given background checks and are CPR certified.  


Zoning board members had a variety of questions.  One asked if local leagues would be given an edge.  Mr. Burns confirmed that local clubs are given right of first refusal - they are allowed first dibs at a time slot for their leagues. He did not however confirm exactly what "local" meant - he approximated it to mean all teams within a certain driving radius.  Another board member questioned the terms of the proposed lease between Sportsplex and Recycland and Mr. Burns stated he believed it to be a 20 year lease.  


When asked if there were plans for future expansion of the site, Mr. Burns said "Right now we're focusing only on the existing warehouse.  In Pottstown we had the opportunity to expand and we did."


The business relationship between Recycland and Sportsplex began in 2003 when Recycland purchased and began operating an Ice Rink next to the Rockville Sportsplex facility.  The two businesses work in accord to accommodate multi-sport campers. According to Mr, Burns, the Rockville facility is built over a landfill.


While this was not a meeting at which environmental issues were on the table for discussion, residents in attendance had those issues most prominently in mind and left this meeting anxious for the next.  It was suggested that Recycland's NJ DEP case worker, Linda Taylor, be invited as an expert witness for many of those concerns.


The next meeting concerning this property will be held on January 8th.


Very funny. The trellis and vines was not our idea. It was the planner's.

Nah - then the squirrels would just move into your attic. I wonder where squirrels poop?

At one time they had one of the Main Street benches under one of the pear trees. It got covered in bird poop and they had to move it.

They put up pigeon wire under the Main Street railroad overpass because the poop was building up on the sidewalk there.

And fake dogs at Edgar field and MHS to keep the geese and their poop away.

I do love birds, just not their poop.

Maybe we could cut down all the trees in town and put up cardboard cutup to eliminate all those pesky squirrels.

Hmmm, sleeping beauty's castle comes to mind when I think of vines...

Also nesting birds and lots of bird poop. Consider the building at the southeast corner of Main and Highland. The side of the building is covered in ivy, and in the warmer months, the sidewalk is covered in bird poop.

Maybe a mural of a trellis and vines?

The current plan is to put up something like a trellis and plant vines that completely screen the building. I like the idea of a mural, particularly with community input. We believe we can put landscaping around the perimeter, but it may make more sense to put it along the property line with the RR right of way and Vidas Park, because it will screen the building better from the residential areas.

I just hope they make the outside of the building look better, whatever is going to be inside. If they can't plant stuff because of the tainted soil, maybe they can paint a mural on the side.

Here's one resident who highly approves of this and hopes it gets done. Looking forward to this facility, will be a great addition to the town

thank you for a good summary of the meeting. We have asked Linda Taylor to come to the meeting on January 8th if the board would like her to testify. Subject to approval of her supervisor, she has agreed to do so.

Great article. Well done, fair and balanced.

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Recent Comments

  • Anonymous: Very funny. The trellis and vines was not our idea. read more
  • Anonymous: Nah - then the squirrels would just move into your read more
  • Anonymous: Maybe we could cut down all the trees in town read more
  • Anonymous: Hmmm, sleeping beauty's castle comes to mind when I think read more
  • stuartdschooler: The current plan is to put up something like a read more
  • Anonymous: I just hope they make the outside of the building read more
  • Anonymous: Here's one resident who highly approves of this and hopes read more
  • stuartdschooler: thank you for a good summary of the meeting. We read more
  • Anonymous: Great article. Well done, fair and balanced. read more

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