Spooky Nook Sports Complex in Manheim, Pennsylvania, is the largest indoor sports complex in North America, and has much more than baseball diamonds and basketball courts in its endless halls. The corridors also have restaurants and even a hotel to house and feed the participants of sports tourism. Sports tourism being the act of traveling to a place, in this case Manheim, to participate in a sports activity. This phenomenon has not only brought big business to Spooky Nook, in hosting AAU basketball tournaments and a host of other youth tournaments, but also to Lancaster County.
The complex is as if Philadelphia recently created a second professional basketball team in Manheim, with hotels, restaurants, and bars popping up around it. The economic impact of Spooky Nook is undeniable, the surrounding businesses even budgeting their work schedules around these youth tournaments. The facility itself also provides impact to the job market. Spooky Nook provides full-time jobs to the community as well as hundreds of seasonal employment opportunities.
The owner of Spooky Nook, Sam Beiler, constructed the idea for the facility after participating in sports tourism himself, taking his daughter to volleyball tournaments around the country. What started as an idea led to the construction of the largest indoor sports complex in North America.
We spoke with Mackenzie Bender, the Marketing Manager for Spookynook Sports:
KS: Can you tell us a little more about how you started?
MB: Yes - we opened our doors in 2013. Our owner, Sam Beiler, used to own Auntie Anne's Pretzels. He sold that in 2011 and "retired." He then spent his time following his daughter around to her volleyball tournaments and really seeing facilities that could be a little bit better with a few extra things - some more customer service, a little bit more cleanliness, more healthy food options. So he got this vision he was going to open a ten court basketball and volleyball facility. He looked at a ton of different places. His realtor got him to come to this facility, it's obviosuly much bigger than 10 courts. and he put it off for awhile because he knew he would fall in love with it. and thats exactly what happened
KS: Just to put things in perspective - 14 acres, 70,000sq. ft., 10 basketball courts - what else is under this roof?
MB: Just under this roof we have a 135 room hotel, in house bar & restaurant. We also have a part of our business that is just meetings and events - so we have an in house catering team and banquets kitchen, as well as meeting and event space. We have our 10 hardwood courts, a few sport courts, indoor turf fields, batting cages, indoor baseball diamonds, and a fitness center that is open for general membership to the public.
KS: I know I grew up about an hour from here, so I came here as a child, and a lot of this has been built up since SpookyNook was built. Can you talk a bit about the impact that SpookyNook has provided - notonly jobs, but the opening of bars, restaurants and hotels
MB: Yes, so our owner Sam Beiler, was born & raised in Lancaster County, so it was important to him to build a facility in this county to give back to the community he grew up in that gave him so much. We opened in 2013 and almost right away we saw bars, restaurants and hotels and attractions being built around us. We currently employ about 700 people - about 120 full time and the rest being part time and seasonal. So just the economic impact from the jobs we have created within these four walls but the outpouring effect it has had on the community. We have bars and restaurants call us Thursday and say "Hey do you have any tournaments this weekend we are trying to make our schedule?" They really staff according to our schedule, because they know not everyone can eat and stay in these four walls so it pours over into the other businesses and they want to make sure they are ready for that.
KS: I know at Playeasy we believe in the impact of sports. You touched on the economic impact, but one of the things that stands out for you guys is the team/family atmosphere you have created starting from the top
MB: We definitely pride ourselves on finding people who fit our core values and our mission statement. We try to provide a great experience for everyone who works through those doors, and that service really starts from the top up. Everyone buys into this All hands on deck mentality. I know I'm in the marketing department but me and one of my coworkers I was out selling t-shirts this past weekend, There may be some days you need to work the register in the food court, or some days you have to fold sweatshirts in the pro shop. It's just kind of a - We know we need a lot of people to get to the mission we want to provide to our customers and give them the best experience we possibly can.