Rumors swirl over what will replace Dugout

I was excited to see The Dugout move from Medford to downtown Central Point last fall only to drive by recently and find it closed. Why did it close so soon and what will happen to the building now? I heard rumors of it being turned into a fitness center?

— J.D., Central Point

Despite charisma and a local fan base for the old brick building, limited parking and a slow economy caused The Dugout to strike out in downtown Central Point.

Moved from Medford in November, the sports bar shuttered its doors in early February. Restaurant owner Joe Hall declined to discuss the closure other than to say he was sad to close the Dugout's doors after a warm welcome from the community.

Hall first opened the sports bar on Medford's Automation Way (off Biddle Road) in the summer of 2010. He opted to move to the site at 311 E. Pine St. in November after the closure of Musician's Friend hampered his Medford business.

Nearly as soon as Hall served his last burger in Central Point, rumors began flying around town. Central Point developer and building owner Tommy Malot said the local rumor mill seems to work overtime where the former brick hardware store is concerned.

Rumors of a fitness center, Malot said, are probably the most ridiculous to date.

Malot, whose company built Anytime Fitness locations in downtown Central Point and in nearby Medford, quipped, "Why would I let that happen when I built both Anytime Fitness center locations?"

Whatever it turns into next, Malot said, he's certain that the location and appeal of the old structure will serve its next caretaker well. The building is currently up for lease or sale.

"It's a great building and a great location. We always have a lot of people interested when it's empty," Malot said. "I don't think it'll be empty for long."

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