Brian Shanahan knew there was a strong demand for a multisport facility in the South Hills just from talking to family and friends.

It was the informal market research that led him, as managing partner of Penn Cove Group Capital, to buy and transform a failing driving range and 15 acres next door in Bethel Park into the Cool Springs Sports Complex. The first phase opened Thursday.

The first phase is a $7 million revamping of the golf center once owned by golf legend Jack Nicklaus. The new golfing amenities include a two-level driving range, a refurbished 18-hole miniature golf course, a full-service restaurant called the Fairway Grille, and indoor golf simulators Shanahan expects will be fully booked.

With dump trunks moving dirt on the hillside that neighbors the golf facility’s collection of driving-range greens, Shanahan said he’s just getting started.

For phase two of Cool Springs, Penn Cove is building a new 172,000-square-foot indoor sports facility that will include a full-scale field for soccer, football, lacrosse and baseball, three basketball courts, six volleyball courts, an all-purpose gym and batting cages.

The two-level complex is also expected to have a Dek-hockey rink on the roof.

The total cost of the project is expected to be $19 million. Shanahan hopes to open the new indoor complex by next spring.

“The South Hills really needs something like this, because there’s really nothing like this,” he said.

Cool Springs is also working finalize an agreement with Allegheny Health Network as a partner in the project, with AHN planning to establish a presence of its Orthopedic Institute within the new indoor facility.

John Paul, CEO of Allegheny Health Network, said the United States Olympic Committee also has a potential interest in Cool Springs. AHN became a regional health provider to the USOC about six months ago, he added.

AHN is negotiating with the USOC about potential involvement at Cool Springs even as AHN is working to finalize an agreement with Penn Cove.

For Shanahan, it’s a heady start to an ambitious project in which his basic goal to serve the kind of middle-class golfing clientele who live in the South Hills.

“We’re not trying to be something we’re not,” he said. “You shouldn’t have to join a country club to have fun with your family.”

Read the original article in the Pittsburgh Business Times by Tim Schooley at