Sports Authority planning 'megastore' in Glen Burnie


A congested highway lined with car dealerships, fast food restaurants and mini-malls was just what appealed to The Sports Authority when it decided to open a branch in the Glen Burnie area.

The Sports Authority, a Fort Lauderdale, Fla.-based sporting goods chain, is planning to open a store in the Price Club Plaza near New Ordnance Road and the Arundel Expressway (Md. 10) by early fall.

The plaza's proximity to Ritchie Highway, less than a mile from the planned store site, was a strong factor in choosing that location, company officials said. Congestion equals people equals shoppers, they said.

"The demographics were excellent in that area," said Mark Walker, director of real estate for The Sports Authority. "The opportunities were not as ample in an area like Catonsville. Gov. Ritchie Highway provided the right area."

Northern Anne Arundel County has proved successful for sporting goods stores, said Bill Nevin, owner of AM Pro Sporting Goods Inc. in the 7500 block of Ritchie Highway.

"With the malls and everything, there are lots of sporting good stores around here, everything from the Foot Locker to Herman's," he said.

"Naturally whenever any new competition comes into the area you're going to lose a small percentage of business," said Nevin, whose store primarily supplies uniforms for team sports. "But we've been here 22 years. If we haven't got them [customers] by now, we're probably not going to get them."

Sports Authority stores are traditionally about 40,000 square-feet, said William Lehrburger, director of marketing and advertising for the company.

"It's a big building, but we're not a warehouse," he said. "The building doesn't have a lot of amenities, but it is carpeted."

Ground was broken last month for the Glen Burnie store, as well as for another Sports Authority store planned for another Price Club Plaza in northeast Baltimore County, in the 9900 block of Pulaski Highway in White Marsh. The company opened its first Maryland store in Greenbelt in Prince George's County last August.

Lehrburger said Sports Authority carries sports equipment, active wear and footwear for every sport. The apparel and footwear are name-brand items.

The company boasts it carries more than 25,000 pieces of active wear and more than 10,000 pairs of shoes in more than 500 styles per store.

The chain is geared toward customers generally aged 18-49, and specifically 25-44, both male and female, and with a median household income of $35,000, Lehrburger said.

K Mart acquired the 4-year-old chain last March.

There are now 20 Sports Authority stores from Florida to Philadelphia and as far west as Las Vegas, with plans to add about 15 stores.

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