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Middletown study will consider possible recreation center at former school

MIDDLETOWN – The Township Committee and the Middletown Township Public Schools Board of Education have announced they have retained Pinnacle Indoor Sports to conduct a study to determine the feasibility of repurposing the Port Monmouth School property to create an indoor sports and recreation center for the community.

Pinnacle, based in Louisville, Ky., has conducted similar studies in 41 states and has a team with more than 60 years of combined experience in the field, according to a press release issued by the township.

“In 2019, Port Monmouth School was closed and has been vacant for the last two years,” Board of Education President Frank Capone was quoted as saying in the press release. “We are proud to be partnering with the township to work toward creating a much-needed indoor sports and recreation complex for the residents of Middletown, rather than selling the property to the highest bidder where it may end up being over-developed.”

Port Monmouth School opened in 1928 and is on 3 acres of property on Route 36. The former school is a 25,750-square-foot building with two full stories and a partial basement, according to the press release.

“Ideally, we would like to be able to maintain some aspect of Port Monmouth School history in this project,” Mayor Tony Perry said. “Our intention is to obtain input from our residents, local sports organizations, leagues and clubs to ensure we use this property to best meet the community’s needs.”

Pinnacle was selected to conduct the study through a Request for Proposals process because of its expertise in researching recreational sports and evaluating the market, according to the press release.

The company recently completed several large indoor sports centers in the Northeast: Schafer Sports Center, a 38,000-square-foot facility in Ewing Township; XL Sports, a 78,000-square-foot sports center in Hatfield, Pa.; and House of Sports, a 120,000-square-foot indoor sports complex – the largest complex in the New York metropolitan area that was repurposed from an existing manufacturing firm, according to the press release.

For the Middletown project, the feasibility and market analysis will include in-person, telephone and/or virtual interviews with multiple stakeholders beginning this month.

Pinnacle will provide a report regarding the growth and popularity of various sports, both nationally and in Middletown, as well as unmet sports-related needs and demands in the community, according to the press release.

For example, an online gaming component will be considered as it continues to integrate into popular culture.

Pinnacle will also investigate ancillary use opportunities that could include non-traditional sports-related activities such as summer camps, partnerships with other area recreational organizations, and individual youth programming to help determine how the facility would be developed and operated.

“The goal is to develop a facility that can be self-sustaining financially,” Perry said.

Following the completion of the stakeholders interview phase and research, Pinnacle will submit an executive summary report to the township and to the school board.

The report will include a financial model and an economic impact analysis. If determined to be financially feasible, the project would then move into the design consultation phase, according to the press release.

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