Mountainside Fitness has found a unique way to market itself and be seen by about 2 million people each year.

After a year of negotiating and planning, Mountainside Fitness, Tempe, AZ, has signed a deal with the Arizona Diamondbacks Major League Baseball team and the county of Maricopa, AZ, to rent 13,000 square feet at Chase Field, the ballpark for the Diamondbacks, for use as a Mountainside Fitness center, says Billy Malkovich, CEO at Mountainside. The Chase Field facility is expected to open in spring 2012.

As a Diamondbacks sponsor, Mountainside, which has nine locations, already had a sign at Chase Field and sent trainers to the ballpark a few times each week to lead boot camps for Diamondbacks office staff. However, the Diamondbacks wanted to offer more fitness options to its staff, and Mountainside wanted to make its brand more active, which led to the idea of a club within the ballpark.

“It went from being a cool idea to something that, from a marketing standpoint, no one had ever done before,” Malkovich says. “It was a way for us to change the game in sports marketing.”

The company will go from having a static sign in the ballpark to having a fully functioning club in which the 2 million people per year who come to a Diamondbacks game can see the club, walk through it and really get to know Mountainside, he says.

For the deal to happen, Mountainside needed approval from Major League Baseball and the county, which the Diamondbacks helped the fitness company secure. Mountainside will not receive funding from the county or the Diamondbacks for the project. Instead, the company will spend $1 million to renovate and equip two areas of the concourse, one on top of the other, that are not in use.

That is far less than Mountainside typically spends to build its 40,000-square-foot suburban clubs from the ground up. At those facilities, the equipment alone generally runs $1 million. However, on a cost-per-square-foot basis, the expense for the Chase Field location is higher than typical Mountainside clubs but worth it because of the opportunities it provides, Malkovich says.

The move, he adds, will make Mountainside one of the only fitness centers in downtown Phoenix, which is comprised of mostly business traffic, although some residential housing has been built in recent years. It provides a place to work out for Mountainside’s suburban members who work downtown, and it allows the company to reach new membership possibilities in downtown workers and baseball fans, Malkovich says.

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“We look at this as tapping into a new market,” he says, adding that it might make health clubs less intimidating for baseball fans who have never been inside one. “Everyone in the fitness industry talks about how we shouldn’t fight for the same customers anymore. We should grow the customer base. This is definitely a move on our part to grow the customer base.”

Space that used to be a Diamondbacks pro shop will be converted into a group cycle room with a glass wall so that people in the main concourse can watch a class. The club also will situate a line of children’s fitness equipment in the main concourse just outside the club so that children can try equipment with the help of a staff member. People also will be able to take guided tours during games, entering the club from an entrance in the concourse. The club also will have an entrance from outside the stadium.

“We want to be as interactive with the fans during the games as possible but make sure we maintain the integrity of what is happening inside Mountainside so that it is a great experience for our members as well,” Malkovich says.

Despite this type of interaction, the possibility of watching a game while working out likely will be limited to viewing it on the TVs inside the gym. Although the architectural plans are not finalized, the facility will be located behind the center field wall, so while the club will offer a view of downtown Phoenix on one side, the view from the other side will likely be the concourse.

“You won’t have direct site lines to the action on the field, but you are going to feel it,” Malkovich says. “When you have [up to 50,000] people cheering for something, that guy on the treadmill is going to feel it.”

The two-story space at Chase Field will be built to accommodate 2,500 members, and Malkovich has already secured additional space within the stadium for future expansion. Mountainside will offer programming that makes use of the ballpark when the team is not playing, including boot camps and stair running. It also will provide shuttle service for its downtown members.

Although Mountainside has partnerships with the NBA’s Phoenix Suns, the NFL’s Arizona Cardinals and the NHL’s Phoenix Coyotes, Malkovich does not anticipate similar deals with these organizations due to the proximity of their stadiums to existing Mountainside facilities. The Suns play just a few blocks from Chase Field, and the Cardinals and Coyotes play in suburban Glendale, AZ, where Mountainside already has a strong presence.

“I think this deal would be difficult to get done anywhere else,” Malkovich says. “You need a good mix of opportunity, a lot of creativity and having a lot of what can be difficult parties all agreeing to something. I think this was a perfect situation for something like this to have happen.”

Cullen Maxey, executive vice president, business operations for the Arizona Diamondbacks, said in a statement from the team, “Adding a state-of-the-art fitness center within the walls of Chase Field is a positive for our employees, fans and people downtown. Promoting health and wellness to our fans and giving them convenient access to this facility is truly unique to Major League Baseball.”