The Frederick Indoor Sports Center, a mainstay of athletics in the city, will officially close its doors on March 31.

The announcement came via a letter posted on FISC’s website and social media pages Monday. In an interview Tuesday, the building’s owner, Tony “C” Checchia, told the News-Post he’s as disappointed as anyone the facility has to close.

Located on Brookfield Court, the FISC facility has been open since 2000, initially called Frederick SportsPlex. Checchia took over the company after being approached by the previous building owner in 2009.

According to Checchia, he and business partner Roby Malandrucco have been looking for a buyer to take over the facility for the better part of four years, hoping they would continue to run it as a sports facility.

But without any offers from sports-related businesses in recent months, the decision was ultimately made to sell the facility for industrial use. Checchia said a prospective sport related operator was lined up immediately before the pandemic began, but COVID-19 and other issues caused this deal to fall through.

“We had an operator in place. We were working toward transitioning the ownership to that operator,” he said.

Checchia said a series of “personal health issues” on both sides of that deal caused it to fall through, and there has not been any follow-up offers from sports companies.

Checchia said he and Malandrucco decided to put the business up for sale in September and began seriously entertaining offers from non-sports businesses for the first time.

“The offers started coming in September, and we kept turning them down, because we wanted to exhaust every possible option for securing the buyer who was going to keep it going as a sports center,” Checchia said. “But for both personal and economic reasons, we finally came to the realization that we can’t just keep wishing and hoping and praying that we’re going to find a sports buyer.”

Checchia said he could not confirm on the record who the facility would be sold to, as the deal is not officially finalized, but he did say the facility would be used for industrial purposes. Checchia said this is what the building is zoned for, having received a special exception in the city’s zoning ordinance in 1999 to operate as a sports facility.

However, Checchia did emphasize — in an attempt to combat rumors he had seen — the building was not sold to Amazon.

Checchia said the financial issues caused by two years of a global pandemic were partially to blame for the decision to close, even though they were looking for buyers before the pandemic. He said before the pandemic, FISC reached a peak of 110 adult soccer league teams; as of now, only 60 teams are playing at the facility, which constitutes a major loss of revenue for the business.

“We still only got to 60 percent of our audience, and a lot of our adult audience isn’t playing because of COVID,” said. “And I don’t fault them, I’m just saying that’s the reality.”

He said it was a difficult personal decision to come to; a long-time soccer player himself, Checchia said he was one of the first customers in the building long before he took it over, and he frequently played multiple soccer matches per week.

Checchia thanked his business partner, staff, family and the community for supporting FISC throughout its time.

Several Facebook users wrote tributes to the business in the comments of the announcement.

“We had so many years of indoor soccer, soccer camps and many birthday parties there,” wrote one. “Thank you for the memories!”

“Had many indoor soccer games at FISC and enjoyed an overnight WHS graduation party there too,” commented another. “Lots of happy memories. Wishing the owner and staff continued success.”

The FISC building is home to a number of smaller businesses like Frederick Soccer Supplies, ITNeedsHelp and a location of PIVOT Physical Therapy. Checchia, who is also the founder of Verita Commercial Real Estate, said he is working with the businesses to find them new homes.

Checchia said operations at FISC would continue as normal until its March 31 closure. FISC is working to refund those who have booked events or paid for use of the facility extending past that date, he said.

Follow Patrick Kernan on Twitter: @PatKernan

(22) comments

Plumbum

Would be a great place for a heavy equipment dealer. Plenty of room inside to pull the cranes in and work on them out of the weather.

anInterestedPerson

They should have converted the space to indoor pickleball courts

Piedmontgardener

Such a shame. And we had the budget surplus to play ball here for the County.

Boomer631B

After taking my granddaughter in the fall of 2020 to Spooky Nook just outside Lancaster, PA to play in the Eastern USA Girls Basketball Tournament over 50 teams were there that weekend along with family and friends to watch that tournament. That tournament was being played in conjunction with a boys tournament both of them age groups were between elementary school age thru high school.

Now considering the amount of $$$ that is made with a place like the Nook; imagine if we kept and had regional tournaments here in Frederick for indoor sports like they do at the Nook... yes the Nook is huge, but you could still have good size events here in Frederick and would generate additional revenue for both the county and the city as well as local businesses. Hate to see this place go!

TrekMan

Very sad indeed. Although I had retired from indoor soccer when Tony opened his place, I do remember how fun it was when I played at the Corner Kick in Germantown. I'm sorry to read this Tony, especially since coaching you at FCC in the '80's and enjoying that time and seeing you successful. Godspeed my friend!

girlinfrederick

So sad to hear this news. There are many adults and children who use and have used this facility over the years. This may have been a great opportunity for a public / private / government partnership. As the city continues to move forward with Hargett Park and add multi-use fields, maybe the city or county Parks & Recreation working with public and private entities could have pulled this off. Thank you Tony for providing a place for thousands of children and adults to play!

vodalone

Very sad news indeed, will have fond memories of playing in the adult soccer leagues since moving to the area in 2015, but it's true, the membership dropped considerably since the pandemic started, about only half the teams came back. When the scoreboards stopped working and they didn't replace them but membership prices went up, everyone knew something was up lol.

gabrielshorn2013

The end of an era. Many memories watching youth indoor soccer matches over the years at FISC.

Greg F

This is really a shame that this has to close. COVID can take a lot of the hit for it being half empty of athletes for sure. Pretty hard to vigorously play a sport with a mask on...or social distance in any common sense way. Not saying Government should foot the bill 100% on this, but a sportsplex like Germantown's should be more than just for soccer if put on county land. Maybe something could be built up on the unused part of the park at Utica for this sort of activity.

vodalone

It wasn't just soccer at FISC, they had flag football, lacrosse, field hockey, dog shows, and other things. At some point the city was considering building an indoor sports facility at Westside Regional Park, but I think that plan fell through.

joelp77440

They actually had ice hockey there too! For a very brief moment only. I remember playing broomball there once or twice.

vodalone

Ice hockey? Hmmm, I remember there being a roller hockey rink before the turf fields, but not ice. Skate Frederick is right down 26, maybe you're thinking of that place?

shiftless88

I have played sports vigorously with a mask on; it's not that hard.

vodalone

I bet that's not with an N95 mask.

shiftless88

No, but a pretty good mask. Some people I have played with wore an N95. I mean sure, it might get you breathing harder but it's basically just practice for being a couple of years older.

sevenstones1000

Shame it isn’t Amazon. That would have brought a lot of jobs to Frederick.

Greg F

We haven't got the roads and infrastructure already for the crap houses Ryan keeps plopping on every available blade of grass. Amazon would have made a disaster even worse.

BigAl

Government missed great opportunity to acquire this great resource

Greg F

Government isn’t a sports company.

micky

Harry Grove!!

francesca_easa

I agree Big Al. Why didn't the City try to make an offer? I wonder if citizens can buy shares in to the building to keep it as is. I think someone should also get advice from the folks who built and own the Ion Leesburg Ice Skating Rink. They have a similar concept (sports/flex space facility), but are doing very well.

vodalone

Good idea, but the city can't even make decent progress on the Westside Regional Park, they would bungle this up bad especially during a pandemic.

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