NEW PORT RICHEY — The site for an international ball hockey tournament, All Sports Arena has started the ball rolling for about $100,000 in upgrades to the building.
Teams from as many as 43 countries already are “maxed out” registering players for the 2014 World Masters Ball Hockey Tournament Sept. 16-21 at the local arena, owner Matthew Garry said.
“All these countries want to come to Florida,” Garry said, and All Sports Arena scored a coup to bring them here.
“These are the reasons why we are investing into the rink so that we can bring more of these types of things,” Michelle Keyser said as marketing director for the arena at 7716 Rutillo Court.
“So obviously the hotel industry is going to benefit, the food industry, the tourism industry is really going to benefit from the rink being state of the art and being able to bring folks from 43 countries right here to New Port Richey,” Keyser added.
The September tournament will feature some 600 athletes, men and women ages 35 and older. About 1,000 spectators are expected.
Tournament organizers will stream the event live throughout the world to about a million viewers, complete with commentators, Garry said.
Renovations will upgrade the bar and restaurant area, extend the VIP section all along the top of the arena, enlarge locker rooms, put in more grandstands, add a media platform and expand bathrooms, among other projects.
“There’s a lot of folks that are going to be needed to be hired locally to pull this off,” Keyser remarked.
The arena already has become a haven for many youth and adult roller hockey teams from the area about every night of the week. All Sports Arena is home to more than 300 children on various teams.
Keyser’s children play in roller hockey leagues.
“You couldn’t ask for a safer environment for your kids to be in,” Keyser remarked. “I never worry about safety in this building. Never. The environment that is built here is very safe, family friendly. It’s encouraging and positive.”
Meanwhile, the venue is branching out into many special events as well. A circus last month came to town at the arena. Magic shows and comedy shows have drawn crowds. Repticon in early February featured some 750 snakes, alligators, lizards, and all other types of scaly critters.
People can rent the rink or throw birthday parties at All Sports. One lesson is free for people who want to learn to play roller hockey.
On Saturday, March 8, the arena will present AFC Cage Fighting. The Sunshine Shootout June 20-22 will bring teams from across the world together for a ball hockey event.
The arena hopes to schedule some school field trips “to teach the kids about sportsmanship and teamwork,” Keyser commented.
For information call (727) 845-7808, go online to http://all-sportsarena.com or email firstname.lastname@example.org.