FAIRFIELD — David Uhlenhop can walk through the new Sports Authority that he manages at Westfield Solano mall and see everything in its place, from kayaks to athletic shoes to baseball gloves to camping gear.
“Twenty-one days of grueling work to get things together,” he said.
But it’s all done and Sports Authority had what’s called a “soft opening” a week ago. On Saturday, the store will hold its grand opening.
The ribbon cutting will take place at 8 a.m. The first 250 customers in line will get “mystery bucks” that they can scratch off to find discounts from $10 to the grand prize of $500. There will be face painting, games and giveaways. Hall of Fame baseball reliever Rollie Fingers will sign autographs from 1 to 2:30 p.m.
City officials see reason to celebrate, too. Sports Authority fills what had been a big void at Westfield Solano mall, one of the major sales-tax generators for the city budget.
Mervyn’s closed amid the recession, leaving 88,000 square feet of vacant space. Forever 21 took the upper floor and now Sports Authority is taking up the lower floor.
“We’ve got two top national retailers now,” Fairfield Senior Economic Development Division Manager Karl Dumas said. “It really helps solidify that Fairfield is still the epicenter in retail in Solano County.”
Plus, Fairfield needed another sporting goods store, he said. The other store is Big Five on North Texas Street.
Mayor Harry Price said Sports Authority is one of the most popular specialty stores of its kind. It will serve not only local residents, but draw people off the freeway to come to Fairfield, he said.
Sports Authority employees 55 people, Uhlenhop said. It had about 2,000 job applicants, he said. He described Sports Authority as serving family sports, from soccer to baseball to camping to similar activities.
“We’re about all things sporting goods,” he said.
Reach Barry Eberling at 427-6929, or firstname.lastname@example.org.