Sports Authority ceasing operations, closing stores in Norwalk and Elmsford

By Kevin Zimmerman

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National retailer Sports Authority, faced with more than $1.1 billion in debt, has reversed its March decision to reorganize under Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection rules and will instead close its 463 stores and liquidate its assets in an auction on May 16.

Among those shuttering stores are outlets in Norwalk and Elmsford, as well as locations in Bridgeport, Danbury, and Yonkers whose closings had previously been announced.

This likely spells the end for the Englewood, Colo.-based sporting goods chain, whose history stretches back to 1928 when it was known as Gart Sports; it began operating under the Sports Authority moniker in 1987. The company filed for Chapter 11 in March, saying at that time it would close 140 stores and two distribution centers. The chain reportedly failed to make a $20 million debt payment in January, and possesses a $300 million loan due in May 2017.

Elsewhere in the recreation retail space, rumors persist that Missouri-based outdoor gear retailer Bass Pro Shops, whose 94 stores include a location in Bridgeport, is considering making an offer for competitor Cabela’s, whose sole store in the region is in East Hartford.

The Sports Authority move is the latest in a general downturn for the so-called “big box” megastore industry. On April 21, Sears Holding announced it will close 68 Kmart and 10 Sears stores this summer in addition to 50 stores it previously announced it would shutter. Through 2017 some 400 Office Depots, 223 Barnes & Nobles, 200 Walgreens and 154 Walmarts are scheduled to be shut down; according to USA Today, a total of over 2,500 big box locations will be gone by the start of 2018.

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