JOHNSON CITY, NY – (WIVT/WBGH) The most anticipated new retail store in recent Greater Binghamton history began its three day long grand opening celebration this morning.

Hundreds of people lined up outside the Dick’s House of Sport at the Oakdale Commons for a chance at mystery gift cards, to sign up for a special athlete appearance and to see the inside of the sprawling mega store.

House of Sport is the newest store concept for Dick’s Sporting Goods which got its start in Binghamton 75 years ago. The first House of Sport opened outside of Rochester two years ago, but the one in Johnson City is the largest to date.

The two-story store with glass elevator boasts sections devoted to individual sports featuring all of the major brands and the biggest shoe selection in the chain with more than a thousand styles to choose from.

But what really sets the House of Sport apart are the number of in-store experiences. There is a 37-foot-tall indoor rock-climbing wall, golf simulators and a putting green, a multi-sport batting cage and an outdoor turf field where customers can practice basketball, soccer, football and more. Executive Director of House of Sport Steven Franklin says the store has received an enthusiastic response since its soft opening last week.

“I’ve talked to customers that have been here 3 or 4 times in just one week. There are so many things to see and experience in the store. It’s really a destination where we want the community to be able to come and just play and have fun and then also look at our great assortment of products that we have in the store and talk to some of our subject matter experts who can help them in their sport,” said Franklin.

A ribbon cutting was held prior to opening the store this morning.

House of Sport features a section devoted to the history of Dick’s Sporting Goods. Executive Chairman Ed Stack once again recalled the story of how his father, founder Dick Stack, first started a bait and tackle store in 1948 using $300 his grandmother gave him from her cookie jar.
He outlined another significant moment in the company’s history in 1987 when during the savings and loan crisis, the business, with just two stores in Binghamton and Vestal, lost its bank. Stack says former Regional President of M&T Bank Glenn Small came to the rescue.

“Larry Schorr, who’s still on our board today, introduced me to Glenn Small. Glenn Small took a big bet on a very little company that was doing very little business, that was thinly capitalized, was this close to going out of business virtually every single day and gave us a line of credit so that we could stay in business. If Glenn hadn’t done that, we wouldn’t be here today,” said Stack.

The opening of its biggest store to date follows a series of investments Dick’s has made in its hometown in recent years, including the sponsorship of the PGA Champions golf tournament in Endicott, a large distribution warehouse in Conklin and an immersive, interactive children’s display at the Discovery Center in Binghamton.

The chain continues to support local athletic clubs here and across through country through its Sports Matter Foundation.

“Sports creates friendships, they create self-confidence, they create discipline. We really think that the things that will happen in this building are going to be really special for decades,” said Franklin.

In addition to the giveaways and discounted items, there were prizes for those participating in an immersive sports festival set up in the parking lot. There are celebrity athlete appearances scheduled for the weekend, former Miracle on Ice hockey team captain Mike Eruzione tomorrow from 2:30 p.m. to 4, and two former Buffalo Bills stars on Sunday, Jim Kelly from noon to 1:30 and Thurman Thomas from 3 to 4:30 p.m.

Customers must line up for one of 200 bracelets handed out for each meet and greet when the store opens each day.