Volleyball House backers find facility in old Elkridge to replace closed center

However, new site lacks space for indoor soccer

Howard At Play

November 04, 2001|By Lowell E. Sunderland

Backers of Volleyball House, a popular but since early summer homeless facility for that sport as well as indoor soccer, have found a new home in old Elkridge that they expect will keep at least some of their former patrons happy.

Judith DeJong, president of the private sports business, announced that the new facility, with six indoor volleyball courts, is expected to open in January in adjoining buildings being bought from a trucking business at 5635 Furnace Ave.

But indoor soccer players and teams accustomed to playing locally over the past 11 years at the former Volleyball House and Indoors Soccer Arena in Columbia's Gateway Center will have to wait longer before playing in Howard County again.

That facility closed July 30 as part of a court settlement with a landlord who wanted the space for offices, and backers have been seeking a new home.

DeJong said the Elkridge site, while "perfect" for volleyball in terms of parking and other amenities, does not have space under a roof to accommodate a new soccer floor. However, she said, she and her partners are talking with others about building an indoor soccer facility, and hope that it could open in time for next winter.

"We wanted an option that would guarantee volleyball," said DeJong, who like her partners works part time at sports and full time in other fields. "So we figured we'd ... worry about soccer this winter. We're kind of exhausted from this whole process. But we really do think we can do [soccer] better than anybody else. And there's such a huge market for soccer that if we don't fill it next winter, somebody else will. But people do have a chance to play [soccer] elsewhere."

DeJong said no comparable volleyball facility exists in Central Maryland. Indoor soccer teams from the county have been booking time at facilities in Carroll County, Owings Mills and Baltimore.

DeJong's group had been planning to build a facility housing eight volleyball courts and two soccer fields.

But not only did plans for that collapse because of unexpected environmental problems with a Columbia site, a couple of investors dropped out. The six volleyball courts in Elkridge match what the group had in Columbia.

DeJong said the new Volleyball House is "absolutely ideal, really cute - that's what everybody says about it."

Patrons will enter through a smallish front building housing services such as a lobby and restrooms, and compete in an adjoining 30-foot-high warehouse that will be renovated, she said. Volleyball House's flooring, nets, poles, and scoreboards have been in storage since summer.

The Columbia Volleyball Club, a sizable league from Fort Meade, and other volleyball groups are expected to play at the new facility, DeJong said, noting that she has been receiving "10 e-mails a day from people wondering when we're coming back."

Besides league play, Volleyball House regularly has been the host of a number of weekend tournaments that draw players from all over the East Coast.

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