DeKalb’s only NCAA-certified private sports facility recently vacated its South DeKalb location due to a future movie sound stage development plans for which have now been temporarily withdrawn.
The film’s sound stage could still open at a shopping center on Memorial Drive, but the basketball, volleyball and soccer facility – called International Sports Arena (ISA) – has left the property even though the company still works remotely.
The sports facility has operated in the mall at the intersection of Memorial Drive and Hambrick Road in unincorporated Stone Mountain for nearly 30 years. The ISA has offered events such as AAU tournaments, after-school programs, locals classes, and NCAA-certified events to athletes in DeKalb County and across the country.
According to the owner of the ISA Vincent Rossier— which also coaches Stone Mountain High School’s basketball team — ISA was the only NCAA-certified private gymnasium in DeKalb. Rosser said the next closest is in Suwanee, Georgia.
“Not even Core4; they don’t have the seating and the capacity and some of the other things that we had in that facility. They can do it in high schools, but the only other [private] the place is Suwanee. Even New Birth couldn’t do that,” Rosser said.
The seating capacity, the number of courts and the quality of the facility have made the ISA unique and have attracted events to Memorial Drive, such as national preparatory basketball tournaments, the camp of underrated basketball from Steph Curry, Red Bull’s 3×3 basketball tournament, and a biannual NCAA scouting camp. , he said.
High school gyms offer an alternative to NCAA-certified private gyms, but Rosser said the DeKalb County School District was reluctant to hold such events after the pandemic and the ISA welcomes thousands of athletes and spectators every weekend during the season.
ISA has also supported the community at the local level, hosting events such as the Atlanta Pro-Am Basketball League, the Atlanta Entertainment Basketball League (AEBL), and providing financial literacy and problem-solving classes. conflicts to local athletes.
Despite ISA’s success, the owners of the mall planned to redevelop, and ISA was given the option of opting for a month-to-month lease or leaving. Since the gym depended on money paid in advance by parents and athletes, the owners of the gym chose to close.
AEBL games will now be played at gyms in Atlanta and Chamblee, the Red Bull 3×3 basketball tournament will be played in Austell, Georgia, and some community members who frequented the ISA for other programs also need new facilities. There are other gyms in the area, but Rosser said few offer the same playing and seating capacity as ISA’s Memorial Drive facility — especially since it’s acts as the only NCAA-certified private venue at DeKalb.
Rosser said he looked at gyms in McDonough and other areas to relocate to, but added that staying close to work and home was key to his ability to operate a large gym.
According to Rosser, ISA is still active after leaving the gym. He said he and gym leaders hold events at schools, churches and other facilities in Atlanta and that he took a group of athletes to a recent Atlanta Hawks practice.
Rosser said he still wanted to move to a new, permanent facility in the Stone Mountain area, but added that ISA was barely breaking even and was using owners’ money, which made relocation difficult.
“It would be great if the county or someone could partner with us or talk to us about bringing something to this area that would be comparable to this community,” Rosser said. “I think it’s a responsibility to business owners, the general public and the county to have something for this community. We kept a lot of adults off the streets. We even kept a lot of weddings together.
Commissioner DeKalb Ted Terry said county officials are helping ISA owners find a new location that can meet community needs after losing the longtime gymnasium.
“We voted to withdraw this particular zoning request. However, all tenants are now moved out,” Terry said. “We are working with gym owners to find an alternate location in the Memorial Drive area.”
“We were bringing good quality events there,” Rosser said. “If it wasn’t for us this mall might still have been desolate like it is if you go up there now and look.”
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