The new owner of the former Mercyhurst North East campus is partnering with the Erie Sports Center to manage the grounds and facilities on the 70-acre property.
Ehrenfeld Companies, or eCos, said in a statement that after researching the needs of the Northeast community, it determined that the Erie Sports Center, officially known as Erie Bank Sports Park and at the originally as Family First Sports Park, was “uniquely qualified” to manage the property’s fields and facilities.
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“Partnering with Erie Sports Center on the Northeast Campus will allow eCos to further develop the synergies for SPIRE across all sports,” the company said in its statement. “Alignment with Erie Sports Center provides the opportunity to continue to grow the sports competition and program hosting offerings in the Erie community. ECos’ commitment to partnering with businesses in the local community and to be an agent for good in the community aligns with Erie Sports Center’s vision of using sport to make a difference in people’s lives.”
Keep a local connection
Ehrenfeld Companies acquired the property in late January for $4.5 million. It is a subsidiary of Blue Ocean Investments, a Baltimore-based real estate company that owns, among other things, the SPIRE Institute & Academy in Geneva, Ohio.
“From the moment we met the eCos leadership team on campus, we realized they had a very similar culture and philosophy,” said Troy Bingham, owner of the Erie Sports Center. “We need to stay commercial, but we have a strong driving force to make a difference in the community. With our facility quickly reaching capacity constraints and our need for more space to accommodate our various clubs, it made sense to partner with eCos to grow our footprint and brand. We look forward to many more projects with Jonathan (Ehrenfeld) and his team.”
Ehrenfeld said he was thrilled to work with Bingham and Erie Sports Center.
“He brings tremendous expertise and passion to the sports industry and community development,” Ehrenfeld said in a statement. combined offers of services and space.
In September, Bingham and Sheldon van Deventer, who grew up in the same neighborhood in South Africa and went to Gannon University on football scholarships, formed Erie Sports Investments, which was one of two buyers. for-profit corporations that purchased part of ErieBank Sports. Park of Greater Regional Erie Athletic Team Training, a non-profit group.
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Erie Sports Investments purchased approximately 30 acres, including what was known as the Golf Dome, a dozen outdoor soccer fields, and the former Fun Zone.
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The second buyer was a local group doing business as BBT Hockey LLC, which took possession of the main land at ErieBank Sports Park, which includes two hockey rinks and basketball courts.
As for the Mercyhurst North East campus, the university put it up for sale in August 2019 amid declining enrollment and after an 18-month feasibility study. It moved most of the courses taught in the Northeast to its main campus at the end of the 2019-2020 academic year, which was earlier than expected due to the COVID-19 pandemic. The remaining courses offered in the North East, including nursing, were transferred after the 2020-2021 academic year.
Ehrenfeld said in January that he was drawn to Mercyhurst North East’s “unique features, history and location.” His company named Mercyhurst graduate Bill Unger as chief operating officer.
Unger previously worked as the Director of Environmental Services for Crothall Healthcare in the Buffalo, NY area.
SPIRE Institute & Academy offers sports programs for high school, college and graduate students in its Geneva home.
Although Ehrenfeld Companies has not yet specified how it will specifically use the Northeast campus, a grant application submitted to the state by the Northeast Borough and obtained by the Erie Times-News via a request Right-to-Know shows that, in addition to athletics, there have been discussions of using the campus for a culinary school and a performing arts program.
The Redevelopment Assistance Capital Program grant application, which has yet to be approved, was for funding for building renovations and the construction of a new state-of-the-art sports complex .