SALTILLO • On the cusp of their busy season, Lindsay and Scottie Thompson had the proverbial rug pulled from under them.

The Thompsons opened the House of Bounce five years ago, but the coronavirus pandemic forced it and other family entertainment centers across the country to close.

At 30,000 square feet, the former furniture warehouse turned family entertainment center housed several inflatables, a rock wall, a zip line, a miniature golf course, laser tag, an arcade and a snack bar that served pizza, wings and other snacks.

“We talked to owners elsewhere, and they were having to shut down,” Scottie said. “There’s really nothing you could do because you couldn’t have a bunch of kids running around in a space like this anymore.”

Individually testing each child, forcing them to wear masks and social distancing was an impossibility, so the Thompsons had few options other than to close.

But fortunately, they had a plan. And emerging anew was Saltillo Sports Complex, which opened last weekend. The building now has 17 batting cages, three pitching cages, and a 7,000-square-foot turf fielding area.

“We’ve had football practice on that turf, too,” Scottie said.

There’s also a regulation-sized basketball court.

The revamped business plan is an idea that came out of the blue, however.

“We had talked about doing something else different even before the coronavirus,” Lindsay said.

In fact, before they opened House of Bounce, the idea had been floated to have a family entertainment center. Now, with the pandemic, it was an opportunity to give it a try.

“What worried me was how I was going to get rid of all the equipment,” Scottie said.

Earlier in the year, a buyer out of the blue asked how much the Thompsons wanted for the playground equipment. They agreed on the price.

“I guess that was a sign for us,” Scottie said with a laugh.

After closing in April, the Thompsons got busy trying to find a buyer for the rest of the equipment. Even though the economy took some lumps in April and May, they were able to find buyers for just about everything.

Next came some demolition. Walls were taken down and floors redone. It was hard work up until the day the Thompsons reopened. They put in their fair share of sweat equity.

With an opening day crowd eager to see the redone facility, Scottie and Lindsay were pleased with the response.

Last Tuesday, Cooper Jackson and his twin, Turner, were getting some batting practice with their grandfather, Mike Jackson, at the complex.

“We came Saturday,” he said. “And yesterday and today.”

Their grandmother, Lorrie Jackson, was getting some softball practice in with Kara Jackson, 6, who thoroughly enjoyed her time with grandma.

“It’s very fun,” Kara said.

While the House of Bounce brought plenty of smiles to children and adults with its thousands of birthday parties and laser tag games over the years, the Thompsons said the sports complex was a door opening after the other one closed.

The facility is open to the public as they build the membership, which is $45 a month. Members get 24/7 access, and the Thompsons hope that eventually it becomes a member-only facility.

Pricing for non-members varies depending on the activity.

• Rates for batting cages start at $10 an hour, which allows for to people at a time inside the cage. Each additional person is $5 per person per hour. Rates for the larger batting cage is $15 an hour, allowing up to three people at a time inside the cage. Each additional person is $5 per hours.

• For basketball, renting a 1/2 court for up to five players is $25 per hours and $5 for each additional player up to 10 players maximum on the court at a time.

• Full court rate for up to 10 players is $40 per hour, with 10 players max on the court at a time.

• Turf Field A or B is $20 per hour, up to four people at a time, with each additional person $5 per person per hour.

• Pitching machine rate is $20 an hour for non-members and $15 an hour for members (which includes a bucket of balls). A bucket of baseballs or softballs can be rented for $10 for non-members.

• Basketballs can be rented for $5 by non- members.

• A bucket of golf balls can be rented for $20 to non-members

• Membership is required for trainers, while trainees can pay $15 an hour.

Scottie said they spared no expense in equipping the facility.

“That’s top of the line turf that we installed,” he said “We could have easily gotten a much cheaper turf, be we only wanted the best. And the cages we got are top-line too. They roll back, which allow us to open up the space if needed.”

And one major component is no longer available – the snack bar. Chips and drinks are available, but no more hot foods like pizza.. Tables and chairs remain however, for those who might need a break from the action.

The complex was open daily last week with fall break going on, but hours will change. For updated hours and other information, visit Saltillo Sports Complex on Facebook.

Twitter: @dennisseid

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