In one fell swoop, Eastern Hills Mall has landed an NFL Hall of Famer and one of the region's most recognizable, privately held companies.
Thurman Thomas Sports, New Era Cap Co. and Inferno Baseball will be opening a 52,000-square-foot baseball and softball athletic training facility in the Transit Road shopping center. The $1 million complex is slated to open in October.
The complex, dubbed New Era at Eastern Hills, will feature an indoor infield, athletic training machines, interactive batting, pitching and catching machines and a retail cap/apparel store. The facility is open to everyone, regardless of age or skill level.
L. Robert Lieb, Mountain Development Corp. chairman, said the complex is another step toward carving a niche for Eastern Hills Mall as a family-friendly shopping center. The New Jersey-based Mountain Development bought Eastern Hills five years ago and has invested heavily in filling the mall's vacant spaces with new retailers and attractions including Orvis Shop and Dave & Buster's.
"Many other malls across the country view their teenage youth as problems," Lieb said. "We see opportunities to help young people do their best to develop to their full potential."
Neal Turvey, Inferno Baseball president, said the lure of having an indoor softball and baseball practice facility is a big draw, given the popularity of both sports in the region.
"There is definitely a need for more year-round facilities, and New Era at Eastern Hills will extend the summer play season," Turvey said.