Praise Fellowship Church creates Sports and Arts amphitheater
Volleyball leagues. Basketball clinics. Arts performances. Batting cages.
There is a new, sports and arts facility going up in Warren County.
The HUB Sports and Arts Complex at Praise Fellowship is rapidly moving through construction, with 125-feet by 75-feet of concrete already in place.
Over the next two weeks, weather permitting, steel will be erected, the fabric roof put on, and the permanent athletic equipment features will be put in place.
The building will have six glass basketball backboards — two at the ends of a full-size court and two on each side; locations for one central volleyball court or two side-by-side; two batting cages; and the flexibility to host numerous other athletic events.
The leaders at the church saw a need.
“We built this with the community in mind,” Praise Fellowship Sports Outreach Director Steve Younger said. “We want to be community driven. We wanted to provide access.”
The space will be available for club and travel teams, high school teams, junior high teams, and teams that are out-of-season. It will also offer opportunities for those who are not part of those teams — youth, adults, everyone.
He said young students shouldn’t have to practice at 7 a.m. on a Saturday because gym space at their schools is limited.
“I’ve had a lot of interest from cheerleaders who don’t want to practice outside in July and August,” Younger said. “We want to be able to set up hurdles. High jump port-a-pits. Soccer. Wrestling. The Jamestown Jackals will use it. They want to have basketball clinics.”
“I had a great meeting with Thad Turner with the YMCA,” he said, emphasizing that he is not setting up to be a competitor to local gyms.
“We want to be an example of the love of Christ,” Younger said. “Sports do more than compete. It’s so much more.”
The building is being built on an open plan.
“From eight feet down, it will be open,” Younger said. That means no walls. A net encircling the building will prevent equipment from escaping. The fabric roof — 36-feet high at the center — will keep out the elements. LED lights will provide the illumination.
Removable walls to keep out drifting snow and generally make the facility usable in the winter are part of the plan, but the form those might take has not yet been determined.
The choice of flooring was a difficult one.
After an extensive search, Younger selected Swisstrax. “This is the same material professional athletes put down when they build an outdoor court.”
Although it will have basketball hoops, batting cages, volleyball nets, and a floor ideally suited to running and jumping, the Hub is not limited to sports.
“The building will seat about 1,000 people when it’s done,” Younger said. “The opportunities are tremendous.”
“We want to be a blessing to the community,” A.J. Maze said. “It’s more than just sports. Another focus will be arts — whether that be music, concerts, drama.”
“It’s going to be like a school,” he said. “We’re going to offer different categories where people can come and learn about the arts — music, dance, visual arts, and culinary arts.”
“We’re going to build a stage at the west end,” Maze said. “That’s definitely a vision. We can partner with the existing building that we have.”
“As the season goes on, we will have concerts out here and outdoor services,” he said. “A lot of the vision is offering a place where the community can come and be blessed.”
“The whole premise is to be a blessing to the community,” Younger said. “The feedback we’ve gotten from people has been really positive.”
So far, the work has been handled by local contractors — Dave Passinger Home Improvement of Russell and Bloomgren Concrete of Lander. “Both of those guys have been an incredible blessing,” Younger said.
The facility has been largely funded internally.
“Within the church, we’ve gone to the congregation to bless this project,” Younger said. “You can see God’s hand in all of it.”
Younger is working with CEDE Sports to learn “how do we come alongside that athlete and provide that ministry?” he said. “The spiritual side is just as important as the physical side.”
“We’d love folks to come alongside of us and find a way we can make this work for everybody,” he said. “We want it to be community blessed.”
There won’t be much of a use fee once the facility opens. “We’re going to ask for a $1 donation,” he said. “We want to be that place where people can come and use this space.”
The building could be complete within two weeks. The steel is arriving next week and the company only needs five days of good weather to get the work done, Younger said. “In January, we’re going to launch.”
He is hoping to see the facility in use as much as possible and is looking for ideas. “We’re thinking about church league volleyball, a first responder night, pickleball.”
There will be a meeting at 7 p.m. Wednesday, Dec. 4, at the Hub for coaches, league officials, organizational leaders, and others who are interested in seeing what the facility can offer.