McDermont Field House in LindsayJun 25, 2015 09:56AM ● By Brandi Barnett
Field DayJuly 2015
By Jordan Venema
Summer’s here, so grab a wetsuit and board or chalk your hands and gather your carabiners, because the coastal tides and craggy crevices are calling. Hopefully the summer doesn’t present a more stressful scenario than this: to surf or to rock climb, that’s the question. But what if you can’t make up your mind, and what if you’d rather not drive the three hours one direction or the hour-plus the other? Well, save yourself the time and stress by staying put and doing both.
Lindsay’s McDermont Field House claims to be the valley’s premier sports and entertainment complex, and since it offers both indoor surfing and rock climbing, perhaps it’s permitted to make the claim.
Beside rocks and riptides, McDermont also offers a gym and fitness classes, laser tag and arcade, an aquatic center and indoor sports leagues. With so many options, you’d expect to find all kinds of people in diverse attire: but not city bureaucrats in suits.
Clint Ashcraft, McDermont’s operations director, says few people realize the Field House is run by the city of Lindsay, but he probably takes that as a compliment. “Traditionally, when a city or government entity decides to take on a project like this, you could guarantee it’s going to lose money,” he says. But not McDermont.
The Field House opened in 2009, but already the complex “is moving close to being a profitable facility,” says Ashcraft. And while the success of this one-of-a-kind, all-of-a-kind, one-stop experience might seem self-evident, McDermont’s success has grown out of less-than-ideal conditions.
“Lindsay is an agriculture-based community,” Ashcraft says, adding that community has struggled. “Lindsay Olives used to come from Lindsay, 20 to 25 years ago, but they moved out of the community.” That, plus an abnormal amount of freezes, “and Lindsay has been struggling for some time.”
During a visit to New York City, Lindsay city staff visited Chelsea Piers, “abandoned piers that were renovated and turned into a really nice sports complex that sits over water,” Ashcraft says.
After the staff returned, “the city manager and city council members looked at this old citrus packing house that sits adjacent to the downtown area, and said, ‘Hey, there’s our Chelsea piers,’” says Ashcraft. “The story goes they actually broke in with flashlights at night to walk through this building and see if it would work. They saw a ton of potential, and from there it just exploded.”
Paying homage to its agricultural roots, the city named the complex McDermont Field House, after the family who owned the former packing company.
But more than just words, the Field House provided concrete opportunities for the ailing community. During its construction, “they hired a lot of people who were not working because of freezes,” says Ashcraft. And since its completion, the 172,000-square-foot complex continues to provide employment opportunities in Lindsay.
Despite operating on a small budget, the complex has maintained affordable rates. A $35 membership gives access to the rock wall, gym facilities, aquatic center and indoor surfing, but also includes a daily 18 holes at the municipal golf course.
Like any successfully operating business, McDermont exists to provide a solid product – an experience for its members and guests. But since McDermont is a city entity, its success also translates to the rest of Lindsay. Ashcraft hopes McDermont can provide additional resources to the city besides entertainment.
“What we’d really like to be able to do is say, yes, let’s pump this revenue into improving streets, improving infrastructure in the city, putting more officers on the streets,” says Ashcraft.
But money aside, the Field House is a fun place to be. “Our niche is fitness and health,” explains Ashcraft, “and people who come here come for the purpose of being active.” But saving a buck or two is also nice. Ashcraft says guests come from Fresno and Bakersfield; “we even have members who live in LA, and they have a membership because we’re super affordable.”
So whether your pleasure is surfing or rock climbing, yoga or the gym, indoor soccer or a virtual arcade, you can do it all under one roof. And while healthy activities are rewards in themselves, it’s certainly doesn’t hurt to think of a membership at McDermont as part of your civic contribution.
McDermont Field House • 365 N Sweetbriar Ave., Lindsay • (559) 562-3326
Monday-Friday 2-9pm, Saturday noon-8pm, Sunday noon-7pm