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Old 7-Up plant in Catonsville a winning site for indoor sports

FitnessJoint VenturesField HockeyTom Quirk

A former eyesore for Catonsville residents has recently been transformed into an indoor sports center by two business partners.

A 30,000 square foot warehouse at 6159 Edmondson Avenue that once served as a 7-Up bottling plant had fallen into disrepair after years of neglect. When bottling was discontinued at the facility in the early 1990s, the building's condition began to deteriorate, said Rich Beattie, who owns the building with his business partner, Fred Kawa.

The cavernous building was vacant for about two years and full of leaks and broken pipes, Beattie said.

The business partners purchased the property in July for their 150-employee construction company, Mechanical Engineering and Construction.

"We were just going to use it as a playground for our kids, " said Kawa, who has two daughters, Reagan, 12, and Paige, 10.

The children of both business partners play competitive lacrosse, so the warehouse seemed like the perfect place for them to practice in the winter.

When word got out that Beattie and Kawa were holding their children's lacrosse games in the building, people asked if they could rent the space for similar activities.

That's when they decided to turn it into a business. Goals Baltimore officially opened its doors Jan. 2.

"For many years, we've needed more fields for our kids to play active recreation on. This is a very welcome addition to the Catonsville community," 1st District Councilman Tom Quirk said.

They bought the building for approximately $2 million and spent between $2 and $3 million on its renovations, Beattie said.

Noting the building's potential to serve as an indoor sports field for their children, they laid down some artificial turf and held games in the space, said Beattie, who has three children, Isabella, 14, Harrison, 12, and Oliver, 8.

"It's way beyond what we had originally envisioned," Beattie said of the new indoor sports center, which has two large fields, one covered in bright green artificial turf and the other with a hard surface for sports such as basketball and hockey.

"The people I've talked to in the community are ecstatic to have more fields to play on," Quirk said.

The spacious center houses two fields lined to play boys and girls lacrosse, indoor soccer, field hockey and football. There is also room for fitness classes for adults while their kids are playing sports, Beattie said. They also host birthday parties, indoor ultimate Frisbee, flag football and field hockey.

"It's been very well received, since there's no indoor sports center in the Catonsville area." Beattie said. "It's very convenient for people in the area who have children that play sports to come here rather than have to travel to Columbia or Hampstead.

"We have neighbors just stopping in to see what's going on. I think there's a buzz in the community because the building blends much better."

Although it just opened, a lot of people are playing sports and taking fitness classes in the facility, Beattie said.

Alleesha Davidson, director of Goals Baltimore, said she sees new faces every day.

"I grew up in Catonsville and I'm seeing people I haven't seen since childhood," she said.

When summer rolls around and more people want to play sports outside, they will transition to adult leagues who prefer the air conditioning and evening play, Beattie said.

Copyright © 2014, The Baltimore Sun
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