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Sports Authority is burnishing its image, including adding stores, as competition increases.
Sports Authority is burnishing its image, including adding stores, as competition increases.

Sports Authority is expanding its presence in greater Orlando, a move that comes on the heels of Academy Sports and Outdoors making inroads into the area.

Sports Authority plans a 26,713-square-foot store at Bayhill Plaza on Turkey Lake Road in Orlando and a 20,000-square-foot location at 3225 Rolling Oaks Blvd. in Kissimmee. Each project will cost about $5 million, according to BidClerk.com, an online service that tracks construction projects in their early stages.

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Sports Authority declined to comment.

The additions follow Sports Authority remodeling six Orlando area stores that reopened last month.

The Sports Authority Bayhill Plaza project in Orlando involves the redevelopment of an existing retail building totaling 52,000 square feet of exterior and interior space. Some 26,713 square feet is earmarked for Sports Authority and 25,289 square feet for Ross Dress for Less.

The date for bids to be submitted is June 10, and the project's estimated start date is July 13.

In Kissimmee, the completed working plans call for construction of a 20,000-square-foot retail store that includes site development.

Bids are due June 15, with the estimated start date July 6. Completion is estimated for November.

Sports Authority already operates close to 50 stores in the state, including eight in greater Orlando. All told, the chain has more than 450 stores in 41 states.

Competition for Sports Authority heated up in the Central Florida area with the March 6 simultaneous opening of four stores by Academy Sports and Outdoors. Academy Sports and Outdoors also made a promotional deal last fall with the University of Central Florida for advertising at home football games.

Academy Sports and Outdoors declined to comment on Sports Authority's new stores.

Until just a few years ago, Orlando lacked some of the nation's largest sporting-good retailers, even as the industry bloomed nationally, the Orlando Sentinel reported. Sports Authority and second-hand specialist Play It Again Sports were the only large national chains operating in Central Florida.

There also are chains with smaller store footprints, such as Hibbett Sports and Foot Locker, but few that rival the size and breadth of the big-box players.

While both Sports Authority and Academy Sports and Outdoors sell sporting goods, their business models differ.

Sports Authority offers a full line of sports and fitness equipment, bikes, athletic footwear and apparel, focusing on premium brands. Sports Authority also also operates about 10 stores under the SA Elite banner in several states. SA Elite sells high-end performance apparel, footwear, and accessories from premier brands. Founded in 1928, the firm is owned by Leonard Green & Partners.

Academy Sports and Outdoors, which is owned by Kohlberg Kravis Roberts & Co., has an everyday low pricing sales approach that does away with the use of deep discounting to bring in customers. The approach assures shoppers they will pay low prices for all merchandise and not be subject to higher markups of nonsale items to offset the deep discounts offered on "specials." Academy Sports and Outdoors stores have six departments: team sports, including golf and fitness; footwear; camping, including patio furniture and cooking supplies; hunting and fishing; and cash registers, including hunting and fishing license sales at select registers.

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