Former ice rink to reopen today for trendy sports

Millersville site offers 'futsal,' indoor lacrosse, other activities

September 02, 2005|By Jamie Stiehm | Jamie Stiehm,SUN STAFF

Today it's good-bye to ice skating and hockey in Millersville and hello to a massive indoor sports complex specializing in something 1976 Olympic gold medal winner Dorothy Hamill never heard of while she was practicing her figure eights: futsal."

The Denison Cabral Maryland SportsPlex officially opens today, officially opens today, occupying the space that formerly housed Benfield Pines Ice Rink, a familiar haunt for a generation of kids.

Trendy team sports such as the Brazilian game of futsal --- a form of indoor soccer with a hardwood floor -- will be offered, along with lacrosse, volleyball and basketball. Youth and adult leagues will be organized, said Ralph LaBarge, a partner in running the 26,000-square-foot facility.

Futsal, which translates into "soccer for the salon," is catching on so fast in the United States that his fall schedules are almost fully booked, LaBarge said. The SportsPlex will be open for from 4 p.m. to midnight on weekdays, he said, and from 7 a.m. to midnight on weekends. For those who wish to play a game without belonging to a team, there will be drop-in sessions, he said.

The former rink, a second home to skaters of all levels and ages since 1973, was closed in May because the business fell on hard times. Rick Pardew, whose father built the rink, said his family-owned business would continue while the Maryland SportsPlex leases and manages the facility.

In the 1970s, when tennis and ice skating were high on the publics list of favorite sports, the rink seemed a permanent fixture in the community. More recently, Benfield Pines was the place that Hamill, a Baltimore resident who continues to perform on the ice, chose to practice five days a week.

"The cycle is finished," Pardew said, noting he couldn't afford the $200,000 cost of new refrigeration machinery. "We sold our three Zambonis to somewhere in New Jersey and our skates to a rink in Oklahoma City."

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