HAMPSTEAD - The Four Seasons Sports Complex is looking to cash in on the boom in indoor soccer and softball.

The facility, destroyed by fire in July 1989, already has reopened much of its athletic complex, but the crowning touch -- a state of the art indoor arena -- is just about ready for play.

"We would like to see it start as early as Oct. 1," said Kevin Bidelspach, general manager and part owner of the facility.

The new arena will be suitable for softball, soccer, lacrosse and volleyball. Tentative plans include softball leagues Monday through Thursday nights, lacrosse on Friday nights and soccer on the weekends.

Filling up the soccer leagues shouldn't be much of a problem. The county had about 20 teams in various age groups playing at an arena in Baltimore City, two facilities in Baltimore County and one arena in Montgomery County.

In years past, area recreation soccer coaches have said more teams likely would play indoor soccer in the winter, but the long travel times limited action to only the best players. The closest of the facilities in the Baltimore area was about 45 minutes from Westminster.

"I think some of them will still go down to Baltimore or Gaithersburg for the competition," said Greg Bright, the girls soccer coach at Westminster High and coach of a traveling girls team. "But I think you'll see more people getting involved because they won't have to make such long trips for games."

But the closest of the previous indoor soccer facilities -- Kenny Cooper's Indoor Sports in Cockeysville, Baltimore County -- has closed and will become an indoor miniature golf facility, Bidelspach said. Another indoor facility in Bowie, Prince George's County, also closed last spring.

Additionally, Bidelspach is hoping that the North Carroll Recreation Council, which for several years has played informal indoor soccer at North Carroll Middle School in nearby Greenmount, will move its program to Four Seasons.

Perhaps the biggest draw will be a $28,000 --er board system, similar to the one used by the Baltimore Blast in the Baltimore Arena. The 12-player plywood boards were installed recently, with the netting and the turf to be installed in late August.

The --er board system was installed by Soccer Systems of Cleveland, which has installed the indoor facilities for both the Cleveland Force and the now-defunct Chicago Sting of the Major Soccer League and an outdoor training facility for the league's San Diego Sockers.

Finding softball teams shouldn't be very difficult, either, since the Cooper facility was one of the few in the Baltimore area offering such competition.

Bidelspach did say he was a little concerned about his hoped-for Oct. 1 starting date and overlap with existing outdoor seasons.

Traditionally, county youth and adult soccer teams play outdoor fall schedules until about mid-November and some of the better players play on outdoor travel teams in the spring, starting in early March. Additionally, two Carroll softball loops have fall outdoor seasons until November.

But, Bright said, some play indoor soccer throughout the spring, summer and fall seasons. He noted that one of his former assistant coaches, Tony Chase, was playing indoors in Montgomery County until mid-July.

Bidelspach said special lighting was designed for the soccer/softball facility and bleachers and an overhead walkway will be available for spectators. The facility will be able to accommodate 40 softball teams, 32 soccer teams and about eight to 10 lacrosse teams.

The fee for softball teams is $395 for an eight-week season, plus a $5 per game per team umpire fee. Soccer fees are $240 per eight-week league for youth teams with players 17-and-under and $395 for adult teams.

Information: Ron Schroers, 239-3366.

Copyright The Baltimore Sun 1990

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