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2/18/2012 2:52:00 PM
Construction of 52,000-square-foot Fort Wayne sports facility begins soon

Linda Lipp, Greater Fort Wayne Business Weekly

Construction of a new, 52,000-square-foot volleyball and basketball complex at Lima Road and Wells Street in Fort Wayne could begin as soon as the weather breaks. But the sports facility will not be the new home of the Mad Ants as was once anticipated.

Property owner Jerry Henry had hoped the Fort Wayne NBA D-League basketball team would sign on to use the complex, which would provide seating for about 3,100 spectators. But talks on that fell through some time ago, and the Mad Ants now plan to stay in their current venue, the Allen County War Memorial Coliseum, said team President Jeff Potter.

Although the basketball franchise had experienced some trouble previously getting the dates it wanted for its games at the busy coliseum, “we’ve gotten some improved dates and we’re very happy there,” Potter said. That doesn’t mean the new complex doesn’t have a lot of potential users, however, Henry said. “Volleyball is an incredibly growing sport, with all the clubs, men and women. It’s a lot bigger footprint than I would have imagined.”

RCI Development, which also built the Lutheran Health SportsCenter ice arena on the pie-shaped property at Lima Road and Wells Street, is developing the adjacent volleyball complex. Although a final agreement had not been reached as of Feb. 14, Ortho Northeast and Parkview Health were expected to share naming rights on the new facility as part of a joint sponsorship, Parkview spokesman John Perlich said.

The complex will have four outdoor sand courts and eight indoor courts and is designed to be used for basketball as well as volleyball. The volleyball courts, inside and out, will be available for use by youth teams as well as adult volleyball leagues.

RCI also developed the ice arena on the property, which was purchased by Henry a few years ago. The arena opened in early 2010, and a hotel — TownePlace Suites Fort Wayne North — on the Wells Street side of the property, delayed by the builder/operator’s financing issues, opened early in spring 2011.

The construction of the volleyball complex will leave about three acres of the triangle-shaped parcel of land available for restaurant and or retail uses.

The preconstructed building was ordered from Nucor Corp. and is being built in Waterloo. Construction will begin as soon as the weather improves enough to break ground, and is expected to take about six to eight months to complete, Henry said.

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