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Published: Friday, 12/31/2004

New group opens basketball facility

BY ERICA BLAKE
BLADE STAFF WRITER

A basketball facility left vacant for nearly a year has seen some recent signs of life, thanks to a local nonprofit organization.

The Hoop Basketball Centers, which has been the focus of a pending lawsuit against the City of Toledo, has reopened its doors under new management. The Bay Area Athletic Center reopened the center at 2020 East Manhattan Blvd. as a basketball and volleyball facility.

"My idea with the Bay Area Athletic Center was to develop youth and recreational sports, and I was looking for a place to do it," said Hendrik van Deventer, the organization's president. "I saw the place was closed because there was a problem between The Hoop and the city. We made an agreement, and I opened the doors."

The 46,000-square-foot complex was billed as a 24-hour basketball and athletic facility when it was opened in May, 2001, by Sports Facilities Development Inc. of Columbus. It was built on city property and leased for 40 years at $500 a year to a group of investors.

The group sued the city in January, 2003, alleging that the administration of former Mayor Carty Finkbeiner reneged on promises that would have made the for-profit enterprise more viable. A trial date is set for Feb. 7 before Judge Frederick McDonald in Lucas County Common Pleas Court, said Adam Loukx, a senior attorney for the city.

In the lawsuit, Sports Facilities claims the city failed to build other sports and recreation facilities near its complex and declined to transfer city-operated basketball and volleyball leagues there. Attorney Christopher Jones, who represents the company, could not be reached for comment.

Mr. Loukx would not comment further on the case because it is pending litigation, but he said the city was aware that the company was planning to sublease the property.

Mr. van Deventer said he created Bay Area Athletic Center about nine months ago in his wife's hometown to bring more recreational opportunities to the Toledo area. He said he does have some concerns with the problems raised by Sports Facilities Development Inc. in the lawsuit, but added that he plans to manage the facility differently.

"I believe that my mission with this place is different, so I believe I can make the place work through different programs," he said. Mr. van Deventer added that since his organization is a nonprofit, much of its funding will come through fund-raisers and grants.

Mr. van Deventer said that his facility is already open for walk-in basketball players and that he is also hosting tournaments, including one on Sunday. He plans to create not only leagues for area youth but also clinics to help those looking to play basketball or volleyball in college.

Contact Erica Blake at:

eblake@theblade.com

or 419-724-6076.



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