Game, Set, Match

Backyard games are big business at Hudson Valley Sport Court

Tennis courts have long been the amenity of choice for athletic-minded owners of posh private residences. This remains true in the Valley, although tennis is no longer the only option. Enthusiasts of squash, basketball, racquetball, handball, ice hockey, figure skating, baseball, and even roller hockey, if they have the means, have contracted with a 10-year-old company called Hudson Valley Sport Court to erect the requisite courts on their properties.

Hudson Valley Sport Court is the New York regional dealership of Sport Court, Inc., an international outfit that, as the name suggests, specializes in the construction of all manner of sport courts, both indoor and outdoor — from handball walls to skating rinks, basketball courts to indoor batting cages. What these courts have in common is a multisport surface laid over reinforced concrete, rather than asphalt. This makes it more expensive, but also longer-lasting. “Asphalt breaks down in the Northeast,” explains HVSC owner Bill Coughlin.

The surface is also more forgiving. “It takes the shock out of bodies when they play on it,” says Coughlin. And not just on knees and ankles. A recent study showed that head injuries sustained on the surface were less severe than their counterparts on asphalt, he adds.

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sports barnCourtside: The tennis court inside the Sports Barn. The special multisport surface is laid over reinforced concrete instead of asphalt, which makes it more forgiving on players’ knees, ankles — and heads

Some of Hudson Valley Sport Court’s clients are celebrities. Coughlin has worked on projects with the owner of the New Jersey Nets, on an island off the Connecticut coast; with Donald Trump, in the White Plains tower that bears the icon’s name; and at the homes of Today host Meredith Vieira and former New York Knicks stars Larry Johnson and Marcus Camby. But not everyone who hires Coughlin’s company is a regular on Page Six.

One of their more outrageous jobs, in Westchester, was a two-stage process that involved demolishing a house next door to the one their client lived in, and then constructing a gleaming new indoor sports facility on the lot. The $1.5 million project was not done for a celebrity. And the most impressive piece of work in their portfolio — a 13,000-square-foot complex at an estate in Accord — was commissioned by a well-to-do but publicity-shy family. The Sports Barn, as it’s called, is equipped with a basketball court, a tennis court, a theater room, a downstairs playroom (with arcade games, billiard tables, and the like), and a full kitchen. MTV Cribs, a television program that tours notable homes, found it a compelling enough subject, but the family turned them down. “It’s one of the most elaborate facilities in the country,” Coughlin says, “and it happens to be right here, at the foot of the Catskills.”

The Sports Barn cost $4.5 million to build, and, like the Empire State Building, was constructed in a bleak economic climate. That may sound like an extravagant, if not decadent, project to undertake with the global economy at its weakest point since the 1930s, but the opposite is true. “We built it during the recession,” Coughlin says, “and it kept a lot of people working.”

Not everything on the Hudson Valley Sport Court menu runs to the mid-seven figures, however. A small half-court basketball set-up costs $20,000. A well-appointed tennis court, with lights and a curb so that the surface can be flooded and frozen for winter ice-skating, can run $150,000.

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