First NK indoor sports center in the zone

POULSBO — North Kitsap’s outdoor athletes will finally have a roof over their heads. After years of searching for an alternative to the lack of field availability during the winter, NK’s outdoor sports community now has a gem in its backyard — more specifically off Finn Hill Road in College Marketplace. The Zone Sportsplex opened last week, offering indoor recreation and fitness options on a grand scale.

POULSBO — North Kitsap’s outdoor athletes will finally have a roof over their heads.

After years of searching for an alternative to the lack of field availability during the winter, NK’s outdoor sports community now has a gem in its backyard — more specifically off Finn Hill Road in College Marketplace.

The Zone Sportsplex opened last week, offering indoor recreation and fitness options on a grand scale.

“We got our permit at 4 (p.m.), started league play at 6 (p.m.) and had probably 2,000 people in here over the course of the weekend,” said Zone co-owner and general manager Ted Thetford.

It was a large turnout for the Zone staff, considering the wild weather of December 2006 delayed the Zone’s originally scheduled opening when ground conditions wouldn’t permit construction crews to lay the asphalt paths required for a city of Poulsbo occupancy permit.

Some odds and ends of the construction process are still being completed as competitive leagues, instructional classes and open fitness sessions gather momentum in their second week.

Already in place are a roughly 15,700 square foot soccer/football field and a near 10,000 square foot baseball/softball infield along with three token-operated batting cages, a pitcher’s tunnel, four rooms of office space and 12 flat screen TVs.

“Usually on one screen we’ll have some kind of game, then, on the other will be game listings of who’s playing who as well as advertising for our sponsors,” Thetford said.

But since the first official coin toss for flag football Jan. 29, the Zone’s staff has hardly had a minute to stop and watch anything on TV.

“We thought there would be a lull during the weekdays, when we’d have a chance to catch our breath,” co-owner and operations manager Stacie Thetford said. “We so did not.”

On weekends and during most weekday evenings, the Zone is an athlete’s training ground. Leagues have been established for flag football and soccer, while training sessions, pickup games and skills clinics are happening for lacrosse, baseball and softball. Fields, cages and the pitching tunnel are also available for rent.

During the day, the Zone’s fields are open to children under 6 to enjoy as well as for adults’ fitness programs and open soccer at select times. Kids’ play is currently underway from 9-11:30 a.m. weekdays, while all other daytime programs will begin March 5.

Leagues and all other programs are available for a set fee, most per eight-week session, while some are pay-by-the-session.

“There was one guy in here who told me he thought it was even a great place just to hang out,” Ted Thetford said.

For now, people coming from all over the Kitsap Peninsula and even further for the Zone’s services. Monday night, 8-year-old Chase Bidlencik of Bremerton was milling around the batting cages while his dad, Mike, played a game of seven-on-seven flag football.

On the sidelines, Ryan Brazeau of Poulsbo and John Ross of Everett had just finished their game.

“We’ve never had anything like this, it’s always been outside,” Brazeau said. “Everybody wants to play, just having a new event here is a great thing. And perfect timing, football just ended, the Seahawks are done, everybody is just hyped up and here we are ready to go.”

Thetford said that the number of football teams registered for the inaugural season went from only two Jan. 29 to 12 at the end of this week. While youth soccer leagues – the most popular offerings which dominate the Zone’s Saturday occupation – boast more than 70 teams.

GRAY BOX:

Upcoming at the Zone …

President’s Day Flag Football Tournament

Feb. 17-18

$150 per team ($125 if team members have Zone player cards)

Guaranteed three games, winner gets $100 and a trophy

Register online at www.zonesportsplex.com.

The Zone Sportsplex

21291 Urdahl Rd.

Poulsbo, WA

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