Sam Beiler and his family spent too much time on the road, traveling from town to town and state to state for sports tournaments. Commuting chewed up the family's whole weekends.
Beiler, former owner of Auntie Anne's, began looking for a place near Lancaster for his kids' teams to play. What he found was an old Armstrong factory building on Spooky Nook Road, right off of Route 30. He and his wife transformed it into Spooky Nook Sports, the largest indoor sports complex in the United States, according to Alyssa Matangos, communications and public relations manager, for the Nook.
This is a place not only for athletes to train and compete but also for families to play.
The Nook is a 700,000-square-foot facility that houses a variety of courts, playing fields (inside and outside) and training equipment.
"You'll often see staff members on Segways when they have to get somewhere quickly," Matangos said.
As you drive along Interstate 283 in Lancaster County, a big white bubble rises from the ground, close to the Salunga exit. This is the indoor playing field for the U.S. Women's National Field Hockey team. The team calls Spooky Nook Sports the "Home of Hockey," with locker rooms, strength and conditioning facilities, conference and lounge areas, office space and the playing fields.
In October, Spooky Nook Sports will raise money to support the team with a black tie Masquerade Ball, helping to fund their trip to Brazil for the 2016 Summer Olympics with live and silent auctions.
The Nook houses trainers for every sport. From baseball to tennis, from lacrosse to football, Spooky Nook Sports has the trainers and space to accommodate serious athletes. In fact, Cumberland Valley High School graduate Matt Lengel, who recently signed with the Cincinnati Bengals, trained during the off-season at Spooky Nook with Jim Launer, director of sports performance.
Adventure sports enthusiasts can get their climb on right at the Nook. Just inside the front doors of the facility are two climbing areas. The Clip 'N' Climb, a fun activity, is constructed for climbers of all ages and experience to clip in and climb towering foam poles and fun walls with footholds. The other area is for more serious climbing, with angled walls and a freestanding boulder. Even beginning climbers can tackle this area after taking the Nook's two-hour training course.
Spooky Nook also plays host to climbing clubs, family time, ladies' night and college night. Visitors can climb for the day or purchase a membership.
Games and tournaments
The facility has a variety of courts tailor-made for specific sports, whether recreational or elite. Leagues and clubs can book space at Spooky Nook Sports for tournaments, games and practices. Baseball players can practice swinging at home plate or catching in the infield on the turf baseball diamond. Hardwood courts are available for basketball and volleyball. Tennis courts host tournaments and leagues. The field house can be transformed to almost any surface a sport requires.
Spooky Nook Sports also has a fitness center for members and its own recreational leagues for anyone to join, including dodge ball and flag football.
"We try to be all things to all people," Matangos said.
Families looking to stay active and have fun can enjoy several different things. The newest activity is bubble bump soccer, and it's exactly what the name sounds like. Players wear giant plastic bubbles and attempt to play soccer.
In the main hall of the Nook is a large arcade with traditional games, such as skee ball, and video games.
Both the arcade and Bubble Bump Soccer are available as birthday party themes, along with Clip 'N' Climb and a sports package.
Sports-themed summer camps are also available for children as well as day camps with activities and crafts.
For members or day visitors, kids can hang out in the child watch room, across from the food court, while Mom and Dad work out in the fitness area or take an exercise class.
Hotel and restaurant
The latest addition to the facility is the Warehouse Hotel, a nod to the building's previous use as a factory and warehouse. Constructed inside the Nook building, the Warehouse Hotel is decorated with refurbished wood and steel accents, giving it an upscale urban look. The style of the lobby belies the fact that a sports facility sits just on the other side of the door. The guest rooms are also decorated with an industrial, with windows that look out onto an indoor courtyard full of greenery.
To complement the hotel, the Forklift and Palate restaurant is under construction to accommodate businesses and other diners. The restaurant is partially named for the wooden pallets that decorate the walls in a modern pattern.
Both the restaurant and the hotel are accessible from outside Spooky Nook Sports, or inside.
Spooky Nook Sports also serves area businesses and large groups. On the second floor of the facility, large and small conference rooms are tricked out with the latest technology. The largest conference room has been used for business meetings, as well as wedding receptions, sports banquets and graduation parties. Spooky Nook Sports also provides catering services.