HENRICO COUNTY, Va. (WRIC) — Henrico County has provided a first look at its approximately $50 million indoor sports and entertainment venue, set to open in September of 2023.
The facility, known as the Henrico Sports and Events Center, will be 185,000 square feet once complete, according to county leaders, featuring 115,000 square feet of adaptable event space with room for 12 basketball courts or 24 volleyball courts and an arena with 3,500 fixed stadium seats.
“This sports and events center will allow us to diversify our sports tourism program,” Fairfield District Supervisor Frank Thornton said. “There’s currently nothing in this region of that sort, so we want to take advantage of that. We have a great opportunity to be creative in determining what happens here.”
Henrico Sports and Entertainment Authority Executive Director Dennis Bickmeier told 8News that they have received inquiries for a variety of uses, but those for basketball and volleyball tournaments have been most frequent.
“We would really like to start booking events here, probably, start the process, next month,” he said. “As we get into October, November, December, we have to start filling up that 2024 calendar. So I think things will happen pretty quickly here over the back half of 2022.”
At the construction site on Monday, crews were working to raise 100,000-pound panels — two per hour — which will make up the side walls of the final structure.
“When you think about the side walls going up, then the next big thing is to get this thing under a roof,” Bickmeier said. “The interior wall, which is higher than this exterior wall that’s closest to us, that’s where the steel beams will sit. So that’s going to be the next milestone of this project over the next couple of months.”
Planning work on the Henrico Sports and Events Center at Virginia Center Commons was underway in October 2020. Demolition began in November, but construction on the project was paused during the height of the coronavirus pandemic. Once work resumed, the foundation of the structure was laid by early August of this year.
“For years, we’ve been winning the outdoor game, with soccer, softball, baseball,” Brookland District Supervisor Dan Schmitt said. “In 2021, sports tournaments in our county, in Henrico, generated nearly $60 million in economic impact — impressive numbers. But we lost out on another approximate $33 million of impact for our residents, our community because we couldn’t host the size and scope indoor events that we know this county is capable of hosting.”
A county spokesperson clarified that that $33 million figure was an estimate gathered based on event inquiries during the pandemic for the first full year of the facility’s operation, which would be 2024.
“Events like basketball, volleyball, pickleball, wrestling, gymnastics, dance, robotics, e-sports, billiards — you name it, we’ll be working to bring it home,” Schmitt said.
Local leaders said the center would be capable of hosting multiple events at a time, and that they also would be looking to host high school graduations for Henrico County Public Schools there.
“We’re just going around right now and really trying to introduce the facility to organizations like the Virginia High School League and see if there’s an opportunity to bid on some of the VHSL events here, as well,” Bickmeier said. “Just about anything that can be played on hardwood, we’re going to be able to play in here.”