Sports Facilities Popping Up Coast-to-Coast
By Sherri Middleton
New Sports Facilities Opening to Host a Variety of Events
Construction and renovation of sports facilities continue to make news this year as government entities and destinations try to keep pace with the anticipated $17 billion sports tourism marketplace estimated for 2020 based on SportsEventsannual Economic Trends Survey feedback.
This year, planners and rights holders might notice a difference in construction projects, with additional unique venues opening to attract sports enthusiasts. With more aquatic facilities, bike and skating parks, and ice complexes, locales across the country are expanding their offerings. But traditional indoor courts and outdoor fields still dominate the bulk of construction on the horizon.
A groundbreaking ceremony was held in September at the site of the new Savannah Arena to be built in Savannah, Ga. The new arena will be situated in the city’s west side historic district, an area to be known as the Canal District.
The $165 million investment by the City of Savannah will be the first major sports addition to the city since the current civic center was constructed in 1974, according to Rob Wells, CSEE, director of the Savannah Sports Council.
“The arena will be a total of 269,000 square feet and will be capable of hosting a variety of sports events, including hockey, basketball, and gymnastics, with a seating capacity of 10,000,” he said. “Additionally, it will be able to house concerts at a similar capacity and have a curtain system that can provide a more intimate setting for around 2,500.” The new arena is expected to open in February 2022.
The Placer Valley Sports and Event Center in Roseville, Calif., is under construction with an anticipated opening in February 2020.
The new complex adds 160,000 square feet of total space, with more than 100,000 square feet of contiguous hardwood floors that can be used for 12 basketball courts or 24 volleyball courts, according to Kim Summers, director of marketing with Placer Valley Tourism.
The facility is being built on the existing 61-acre Placer County Fairgrounds site and will be designed to host basketball, volleyball, gymnastics, cheer, dance, futsal, tradeshows and competitions.USA Gymnastics plans to hold a championship event there in May 2020.
The new $34 million facility is at the base of the Sierra Nevada Mountains with team-friendly hotels, arts and culture, with dining options nearby. The facility has 35-foot ceilings, a 10,000-square-foot lobby and can host banquets or meetings.
In Leesburg, Va., the Ion International Training Center opened in May 2019. The new facility features a 90,000-square-foot center that includes two NHL-size sheets of ice, including one that is circled by grandstand stadium seating for up to 5,500, according to Jennifer Buske-Sigal, director of media relations with Visit Loudoun.
Developed by former Olympic figure skater and Romanian national champion Luiz Taifas and his wife, Mitra Setayesh, the facility includes a full-service gym, a café, a pro shop, a medical room and hockey training room, and the rink can be covered to host concerts and other recreational activities. In addition to Ion, Segra Field is home to Loudoun United FC, a Division II affiliate of DC United in the United Soccer League.
Buske-Sigal said Segra Field has a seating capacity of 5,000 and includes eight 24-person suites that are available for group rental use. The stadium has an artificial turf surface and can host soccer and other sports and events. The facility enables Loudoun County to host larger events, such as state high school championships and a variety of sports activities, as the championship field provides a place to host large youth tournaments.
The new Robert Morris University UPMC Events Center on the Robert Morris University Campus in the Pittsburgh West/Airport Corridor of Pittsburgh opened May 2019, according to Christen Miller, sports development coordinator with Sports Pittsburgh. The 161,000-square-foot multi-purpose facility is home to the Colonials Division I men’s and women’s basketball teams and the Division I women’s volleyball team.
The arena, known as Peoples Court, features 19,000 square feet of floor space, seating for more than 4,000, concession areas, four locker rooms, a practice gym, and a strength and conditioning center. The arena can host basketball, volleyball, cheer, gymnastics, fencing, wrestling, karate, boxing, archery, futsal, martial arts and weightlifting.
A conference and meeting center offers an additional 11,000 square feet of space attached to the main arena. The facility offers complimentary Wi-Fi. The complex is located near more than 15 hotels.
Construction is also underway on the Paradise Coast Sports and Special Events Complex in Naples, Fla. The new amateur sports and events complex will be located east of downtown, with easy access off I-75.
The Naples, Marco Island, Everglades Convention & Visitors Bureau sports marketing team has already been contacted by organizers of soccer, lacrosse, football, baseball and softball events for both youth and adult teams in anticipation of the June 2020 opening of the first phase of the new sports complex. The final phase of construction is expected to be completed in 2021 or 2022.
A few new hotels have already opened close to the complex this year, including a new WoodSpring Suites extended-stay hotel near two existing Marriott hotels. A second WoodSpring Suites is under construction just east of downtown Naples on Tamiami Trail. A Staybridge Suites recently opened at the Lely Resort Golf Community and several mid-range, family-friendly hotels are under construction on the north side of Collier County.
The first phase of the complex, expected to open in June, includes four multipurpose artificial-turf fields and a lakefront great lawn entertainment and event area. A Championship Stadium venue will open shortly afterward, followed by the addition of up to 19 artificial-turf multipurpose fields for soccer, football and lacrosse, as well as eight baseball/softball diamonds, training and fitness areas, and a championship stadium. All sports fields will have LED lighting.
The great lawn will provide a premier social gathering spot in the area and will front a 13-acre lake. The great lawn will feature a beachfront bar, a sand volleyball court, outdoor ping pong, cornhole and fire pits. It also provides a location to offer movies in the park, concerts, food truck rallies and contests, wellness-themed events, arts and crafts fairs, and holiday events. The lawn will also include the largest functional fitness area in Florida, which will include a fully-equipped fitness court, a yoga area, an obstacle course, training equipment and an outdoor gym.
Cedar Point Sports Center in Sandusky, Ohio, is constructing a 145,000-square-foot multisport training, recreation and events facility with the bulk of funding coming from bed tax revenues from overnight visitors to the area. The remainder of funding is from Cedar Fair, the parent company of Cedar Point. The new sports center is expected to open in January 2020 to offer youth sports training programs, clinics and camps, along with sports performance and fitness training, and youth and adult leagues and tournaments.
The center will also host dance, cheer, archery, wrestling, and other tournaments and events, according to Tracy Mastrangelo, marketing project manager with Sports Facilities Advisory/Sports Facilities Management (SFA/SFM). The new facility, estimated to cost $48 million, will offer a championship-level volleyball or basketball arena, 10 basketball courts or 20 volleyball courts, concessions, an indoor walking and running track, event rooms and access to Cedar Point Amusement Park. The Sports Center will be managed under the SFA/SFM umbrella.
Sand Mountain Park & Amphitheater is a 130-acre park under construction in Albertville, Ala. The new park is expected to open in 2020 and will offer elite-level athletic facilities and a family-friendly atmosphere, with public play spaces for the communities of Albertville, Guntersville, Boaz, Crossville and surrounding Marshall County.
The new facility will offer four all-weather turf baseball fields, indoor and outdoor basketball courts, multipurpose fields for football, soccer, and lacrosse, five all-weather turf fields for softball, an indoor competition swimming pool, hard clay tennis courts, indoor volleyball courts, an elevated running track, racquetball courts, a recreation pool, party rooms, a kitchen and conference rooms, locker rooms, and an outdoor fitness/yoga lawn.
Sand Mountain Park Tennis will be home to the Albertville High School boys’ and girls’ teams and will host youth leagues and tournaments on the 12 resurfaced hard courts and an additional four competition clay courts. The park will include concessions, restrooms, a viewing deck and LED lighting.
An RV park is also planned where families will be able to enjoy the amenities. The RV park will offer 14 RV bays, power, sewer and water hookups, Wi-Fi, easy access to Lake Guntersville State Park and downtown shopping and restaurants in Albertville.
In Maryland Heights, Mo., the City of Maryland Heights, the Legacy Ice Foundation and the St. Louis Blues held a dedication ceremony in September on the new $83 million Centene Community Ice Center.
The new state-of-the-art ice sports complex features three indoor NHL-size sheets of ice with public seating areas for up to 2,500 spectators. The center will also serve as the official practice facility for the 2019 Stanley Cup Champions, the St. Louis Blues. A fourth sheet of ice, a covered outdoor rink, will offer skating and entertainment space with 4,200 seats. The center will host high school teams, hockey tournaments, and regional and national events to engage more youth in skating and ice sports.
“The arrival of the Centene Community Ice Center is a major step forward in the city’s overall development of the Maryland Park Lake District as an environmentally responsible community of recreation, sports, entertainment, hospitality and lifestyle amenities,” said Mike Moeller, Mayor of Maryland Heights in announcing the center.
The Centene Community Ice Center is expected to draw more than 1 million visitors each year and deliver an estimated $20 million economic impact through hotel nights and visits to the area. Mercy Health will offer sports medicine, training, therapy and other services at the center. Spectra manages the 27-acre facility through the St. Louis Legacy Ice Foundation as part of a 30-year agreement with the City of Maryland Heights, which will own the facility upon competition.
Opening this month, the Community First Champion Center Fox Cities in Grand Chute, Wisc., is building a large field house with four basketball (or eight volleyball) courts, a permanent ice rink and a seasonal arena that can be used as an ice rink. Four additional basketball courts or eight volleyball courts will give the Grand Chute community the capability to host large events. The new facility will be able to host gymnastics, wrestling, cheer and dance, futsal and other sports, in addition to basketball, volleyball and ice sports.
The 164,000-square-foot facility will offer ice seating for up to 1,000 spectators. Heated viewing areas will provide views to the hardwood courts and ice rinks and on-site concessions, meeting and event space, and other amenities will be available, according to the Fox Cities Convention & Visitors Bureau.
In Abilene, Texas, the Abilene Youth Sports Authority will open the 55,000-square-foot https://www.championcenterwi.comDodge Jones Sports Center in January 2020. The new facility will offer four regulation basketball courts, eight volleyball courts, meeting and event space, and other amenities.
Abilene already offers facilities, including 18 football fields, 39 basketball courts, 35 volleyball courts, 113 tennis courts, seven golf courses, 4 disc golf courses, 24 soccer fields and 30 baseball fields, in addition to seven sites for track and fields, according to Debi Schultz, sports sales director with the Abilene Convention and Visitors Bureau.
In Louisville, Ky., the new Norton Sports Health Athletics & Learning Complex in Louisville’s Russell neighborhood is being built on a 24-acre site.
The complex will offer indoor/outdoor track and field space with seating for 4,000, entertainment space with a bowling alley, a rock-climbing wall, outdoor event space and a learning lab. The $35 million complex is expected to open by the end of 2020 and is anticipated to provide a gateway for future development in the West End.
In the Orlando, Fla., metropolitan area of Haines City, the new Feltrim Sports Village offers sand volleyball courts, a multipurpose stadium and soccer fields to serve as the home of the Ronaldo R9 Soccer Academy.
The five-acre complex will offer spectator seating for up to 2,500 and two turf soccer fields for training near the multipurpose stadium. With 10 sand volleyball courts, four team locker rooms, concession areas and a practice golf green, the complex will have LED lighting and a scoreboard in the stadium. Fields will also be suitable for lacrosse. The first phase of the project, located at Balmoral Resort, will primarily be used for football, lacrosse, soccer and sand volleyball. The complex will feature LED lighting and scoreboards, motion-sensor video game equipment and high-definition sound.
A new 10,000 square-foot Balmoral Event Center will also contain room for sports events, corporate retreats, and other events, and a 100-room hotel is slated for completion in 2020.
The Virginia Beach Sports Center is scheduled to open November 2020, according to Erin Goldmeier, director of public relations for the Virginia Beach Convention and Visitors Bureau.
The 285,000-square-foot facility, located in the Oceanfront District, will host a diverse range of sporting events and tournaments.
The new sports center will include-state-of-the-art features, including a 200-meter indoor hydraulically banked track; field event features, such as dual jumping pits and dual pole vault pits; and the center will include 195,000 square feet of programmable space, including 117,000 square feet of multipurpose, column-free flexible space that can accommodate 12 basketball courts or convert to 24 volleyball courts. With seating for nearly 5,000 spectators, the sports center will include concession areas and meeting rooms.
The court space design will be used for multiple sporting events, including gymnastics, wrestling, futsal, floor hockey and other indoor events. With the ability to lay the track flat, the center will be flexible for a variety of floor competitions.
The overall design also includes convertible restrooms with special doping control rooms, warm-up track lanes, athlete restrooms and dedicated locker rooms for officials with private entrances, and an outdoor courtyard event and staging space can be used for festivals, ceremonies and live entertainment.
The 500,000-square-foot Virginia Beach Convention Center is across the street and provides additional room for sports event planners and organizers, in addition to providing a LEED Gold certified premier sports and convention complex for cheerleading championships, wrestling tournaments and other events.
The convention center and sports center are less than a mile from the Atlantic Ocean and convenient to hotels and restaurants. Goldmeier said the addition of the new center will enhance the city’s appeal is a year-round tournament destination.
“Virginia Beach Sports Marketing has been an active player in the sports tourism industry for more than 20 years,” said Nancy Helman, director of sports marketing for the CVB. “After building a brand of hosting more than 1,000 successful events and welcoming millions of athletes, coaches, fans and spectators, we are excited to make the dream of the Virginia Beach Sports Center a reality. We maximized all of our years of experience and leveraged all of our relationships to create what we think is the crown jewel of sports venues. We are proud of this world-class sport tournament facility.”
The newly opened Rockstar Energy Bike Park in partnership with the Harris County – Houston Sports Authority (HCHSA) and North Houston Development Corp. (NHDC) is a state-of-the-art 20-acre park that will host three major events in an eight-month span that began with the USA BMX Lone Star Nationals at the end of October.
The bike park in Houston is the largest bike park facility of its kind in the United States and will hold the BMX Nationals and World Championship Qualifier in March 2020, followed by the UCI BMX World Championships in May 2020. The bike park will allow Houston to host national and international events while providing the local biking community with a year-round park. The complex includes Dylan Park, a park designed for children with all types of abilities.
The entire complex features a red-clay track for competitions with bleachers for up to 2,000 spectators, asphalt pump tracks, street courses, freestyle areas and bowls, biking trails that connect to other parks and a grassy knoll for additional seating. An event center, educational area, sculptures and other amenities are designed to attract kids, and national and international events, and be an area where people can learn to ride a bike in a safe environment.
The park will also offer bikes for people to use if they don’t have their own. By partnering with USA BMX, the park and the sports authority will be able to provide educational opportunities and STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering, Math) courses with the goal of introducing 20,020 kids to biking in 2020.
The sports authority is going to area schools with a trailer and bikes to teach elementary students how to ride under the BMX 101/STEM Programs. The STEM course offers a track design course for fourth graders and a bike-building program for fifth graders. The BMX outreach has three programs and is aimed at Grades 1–8, designed to be used in a variety of settings, including after school and during school days.
HCHSA CEO Janis Burke said, “We couldn’t be more excited about the first few months at the park. The community has embraced it and, since the park is built for all skill levels, we’re seeing neighborhood residents utilizing it as well as elite riders. It’s already having an impact, as is our BMX 101 program. We set the bar high to reach 20,020 kids in 2020 and we’re well on our way. And in just short eight months, we will welcome people from over 40 different countries to Rockstar Energy Bike Park for the UCI BMX World Championships. We can’t wait for the athletes to compete on a track that is one of the best in the world.”
Sports Force Parks on the Mississippi in Vicksburg opened in Spring 2019 with professional-level synthetic-turf fields, according to Visit Vicksburg, the Vicksburg Convention and Visitors Bureau.
The park features 10 baseball and softball fields, and seven full-size soccer fields constructed with synthetic turf. Ten batting cages, bullpens and dedicated warm-up areas are also provided around the fields. Concessions, retail, and entertainment, such as a Fly Wire Zip Line and a mini-golf course, are also available.