It’s a store. It’s a theme park. It’s an immersive experience. Is Dick’s House of Sport worth a family outing? 

Photos by Ted Anthony

“You want to have your birthday party in here?” a mother said to her son last weekend while walking through the freshly minted Dick’s House of Sport at Ross Park Mall. They walked out of earshot before the rest of the conversation could be heard.

For parents, this much is certain: There is enough going on here that a birthday party could be lots of fun. And also kind of intimidating. 

Is this a new kind of Dick’s store? A theme park for sports? Both? It’s hard to define, exactly. But from fenced-in outdoor field to virtual batting cage to mini driving range, it is a dizzying consumer experience for anyone who ever wanted to move their body in an athletic way. 

Dicks House of Sport equipment services_photo by Ted Anthony

Is it a service shop? Yes. Look this way and you’ll see a man pounding baseball gloves behind a counter and another tending to a bike up on a block. Is it a climbing wall? Yep. Kids dangle from ropes as staffers supervise. Is it a community park?

The outdoor soccer pitch features kids (supervised under 16, please) playing football and soccer and, to the side, a cornhole game. Parents sit on actual bleachers, watching their kids on the field. Is it a batting cage? A driving range? A hometown store for all the Pittsburgh teams? Yes, yes and yes. 

Dick’s House of Sport locations have been opening around the country for almost three years now, with dozens more planned. But this is the first in the Pittsburgh area, the company’s headquarters city. With elements of Cabela’s and Bass Pro Shops, and overtones of the Nike Store and Dave & Buster’s, the House of Sport blurs the lines between buying and experiencing to dramatic effect. Or, as Dick’s puts it, it’s a place to “explore the future of retail through multi-sport experiences inside and outside the store.”

Dicks House of Sport_adidas clothes_photo by Ted Anthony

Life-sized dioramas in every corner represent most every sport — complete with multiple mannequins paused in mid-athletic accomplishment. Metal water bottles by the thousand are stacked in pleasing, even calming displays. Color — from light blue to bright pink to hunter’s olive and beyond — is used in patterns on walls to entice shoppers into oohs and ahhs.

There’s even a mannequin guy sitting in an outdoor chair, kept company by his mannequin dog. Every product is turned into a display, an ode to itself, a cross between a sports museum and a shrine. 

Dicks House of Sport_mannequin in wheelchair_photo by Ted Anthony

On the House of Sport’s second weekend in business — the parking lot of the much-anticipated new location was jam-packed — Kidsburgh did a walkthrough to assess some questions that might be asked by western Pennsylvania parents inclined to take their kids for a look. 


On the surface, it’s an absolute yes. Though some things, like the climbing wall and the driving range, cost money for participation, others are free. So it’s possible to spend an hour and more there without buying anything.

Dicks House of Sport_climbing wall-photo by Ted Anthony

The costs: 

  • climbing – $10 for 15 minutes. Kids must be ages 6 and up.
  • field and track – free and available, if no events are going on. Kids under age 16 must be supervised. You can bring your own ball, and there are also limited ones available for use.
  • virtual golf driving range — $29.99 for a half hour, and $49.99 for an hour. Bring your own clubs.
  • putting green — free for kids to test out golf equipment.
  • batting cages — five free swings or $15 for 20 minutes

So parents can rest assured that if they bring kids here, there will be things to do.

Dicks House of Sport_kids testing golf clubs

And yet … 

Product reigns supreme here. While many attractions are free and accessible, the unremitting array of goods — about 100,000 square feet of them — mean that the psychological whisper of the place is always in your (and your kids’) ear, saying: “Isn’t this cool? Isn’t this colorful? Shouldn’t you have at least one of these? Maybe two? How about six?”

So beware: While you can experience it without buying anything, that doesn’t mean you will. And if you’re bringing the offspring, prepare for an onslaught of purchasing desire. 

Dicks House of Sport_shopping area_photo by Ted Anthony


If your child is easily stimulated, this can be an overwhelming place. It may be for you as well. 

Wherever you turn, something’s happening. The bright colors — shown off not only in shoes and shirts but in entire towering walls of richly hued socks and shorts — are so pleasing to the eye that we found ourselves considering purchasing a few even though we didn’t need them. Which, of course, is the outcome of good design. 

Dicks House of Sport_sports cleats area_photo by Ted Anthony

In the words of one exhausted father, sitting near the front of the store and mentally regrouping as his kids admired a Ke’Bryan Hayes jersey. “I’m not sure what this place is, but it’s beautiful and it’s terrifying.”

In short: It’s an assault on the senses. Whether that’s good for you and your child is, like so much parenting, up to you.

Dicks House of Sport_baseball display


In some ways it’s not. You can get what you want and find your version immediately, and the floor is bustling with smart and friendly and informed staff (“teammates,” as they’re known) who will direct you to your every need in the most frictionless way possible. That’s not unlike other big stores. 

But the topography of the place feels somehow different. The outdoor field and its giant fence that rose in the parking lot of the region’s premier mall are one reason. But such great care has been taken with the design that it operates on a “whole ‘nother level,” as a tween might say. 

From the video-screened golf driving range to the kid-crowded putting green to the many silvery mannequins posed like action figures throughout the store that could almost be human, but for their lack of faces, there is a futuristic feel to it that gives Dick’s House of Sport its own character — a Valhalla of human athletic and outdoor activity with a decidedly Pittsburgh hometown inflection. 

Dicks House of Sport_batting cage_photo by Ted Anthony


In many ways, this is a place not to be missed. It’s unique (for now) and fascinating and entertaining. It’s never boring. And, if you’re looking for a product you might find at a sporting-goods store, it can’t be beat. 

But in the end, its perfect storm of frictionless consumerism is both gratifying and intimidating. If you’re a parent, and you come without your credit card, your critical thinking skills and the ability to say “no,” it might be an exhausting outing indeed.