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2/15/2004

Sports Warehouse off to a roaring start

By Pam Mellskog
The Daily Times-Call

LONGMONT — Like the West itself, Longmont Sports Warehouse is all about wide open spaces. A small child might need a popcorn trail to find the front desk after touring the 66,000-square-foot area, which includes a soccer field, in-line hockey arena, volleyball and basketball court, 60-meter sprint track, a loaded weight room and a paintball zone.

And despite its tucked-away location behind the Longmont Business Park at 120 Ninth Ave., traffic has continued picking up — 90 percent of it through word-of-mouth —since the November grand opening, according to co-owner Tim McIntire, 46.

“I know it’s taken some pressure off the school district,” he explained. “Basketball had most of the gyms backed up around Longmont for practice and training.”

But he and equal partners Chad Parish, Ron Olson and silent partner Kevin Robbie now call club volleyball the sleeper success story.

Ten teams, including the Warehouse’s namesake team, now use the space, and the owners expect the roster to lengthen, according to McIntire.

About 20 soccer teams and 14 in-line hockey teams regularly meet at the Warehouse as well.

This week, he continued, it will unveil two batting cages for baseball and softball teams, launch a martial arts program and introduce another personal trainer to meet demand in the already 75-member strength training program.

The downside is rising prices effective March 1 for premier individual memberships, which provide full access to the holder.

It now costs $40 per three-month membership for anyone older than 18 and $30 per three-month membership for children up to age 17.

But memberships come in many packages to meet individual and team needs and budgets — especially since the top of the bell-shaped age curve is between 15 and 25, Parish said.

With facility capacity at 500, there is room to keep growing into the space, which the owners renovated for $250,000.

But McIntire declined to share the membership head count to date.

Still, McIntire expects to add to the rolls — even though another mega facility at 55,000 square feet called Off the Boards opened in Gunbarrel last month.

Is it competition?

McIntire and Parish, who still hold Longmont High School track and field head coach and assistant coach positions respectively, run the Warehouse full time and doubt it, they said.

That gym has rock climbing walls, something the Warehouse lacks.

But both point to paintball as the card that makes it a special center in Boulder County and beyond.

“There are lots of sports facilities, and there are lots of paintball facilities,” Parish said. “But to our knowledge, there are none with both.”

To keep all the balls in the air, the owners hired a full-time office manager, 10 part-time staff and contractors such as Dr. Tim Ray, a chiropractor who treated athletes at four Olympic Games, McIntire said.

So far, the Warehouse’s space, staff and pricing mix has kept doors open and a dream alive, according to Parish.

“I think everybody who gets into the (fitness) industry wants to own their own gym some day,” he explained. “It’s been a childhood dream come true.”

Pam Mellskog can be reached at 303-776-2244, Ext. 224, or by e-mail at pmellskog@times-call.com.