- Matt Sanctis Staff Writer
A new business scheduled to open at the Upper Valley Mall this week will allow customers to step inside inflatable balls and play games like human pool and foosball.
Bill McConaha will open Knockerball Plus in a former bingo hall across from Spencer’s Gifts on Friday, Oct. 20. The business will also host a soft opening for mall employees a day earlier.
Knockerball allows customers to strap themselves inside large, inflatable spheres and play a variety of games including a version of soccer. The business will also offer games like foot pool and human foosball, but McConaha said he’s also considering offering dodge ball if there’s enough demand from customers.
He saw a similar concept at a mall in Alabama, and decided Springfield would be a good location in part because of its inexpensive rent. McConaha grew up in Enon and also wanted to try to find a way to bring foot traffic back into the mall.
“The more people that come, if we can attract corporations and bigger crowds, maybe we can attract not necessarily retailers, but more businesses to come into the mall,” McConaha said. “People don’t come because there are so many empty spaces. If the mall was full and didn’t look so empty, I feel like people would come back.”
Knockerball Plus will be located in a roughly 5,500-square-foot space most recently occupied by Wings of Love Bingo, said Carla Finney, a leasing agent for the mall. Deb Shops, a women’s clothing store, held that space for years before the bingo hall, she said.
The goal will be to host parties and team-building events for area businesses, but smaller groups and individuals will be able to play as well whenever it isn’t booked for events. It could also host league events throughout the year. It will focus on hosting weekend events and be open by appointment during the week.
“We’ve got hockey and soccer leagues and those kinds of things, but this is different and I think people would be interested in trying it,” he said.
Wherever possible, he said his business supports other area businesses, including working with local contractors and buying supplies from local companies. The Barn Pizza, a longtime Upper Valley Pike business, will cater parties and events at Knockerball Plus.
While he has several games in mind for the first few months, McConaha said he plans to be flexible and make changes depending on what customers are looking for.
“There’s not a lot of things for kids to do and we’re hoping it gives them another avenue,” he said.