HENRICO, Va. (WRIC) — Crews have begun pouring concrete at the site of the new Henrico County Sport Complex at Virginia Center Commons, which is expected to be complete in September 2023.

The massive project was approved by the county in 2020, and demolition of a portion of the Virginia Center Commons mall began that November.

Now, Henrico County has shared video footage of the construction process, showing that crews have begun laying the foundation for the center, which will feature hardwood courts for a variety of sports.

“Our region, and Henrico County in particular, has just done an amazing job with sports tourism,” said Dennis Bickmeier, the head of Henrico’s new sports tourism program. “And so much of that has been centered on outdoor sports.”

Bickmeier said the completed facility will be able to host tournaments for basketball, volleyball, gymnastics – essentially any sport that can be played on a hardwood court.

He added that the facility will host “everything from our own recreation use for our residents to youth sports, travel, AAU, to adult leagues – I mean, go down the list.”

The project is located in Virginia Center Commons, a mall that was opened to much fanfare in 1991 but, like many malls, has been impacted by commercial decline over the last decade.

“This mall has seen its lifespan, and we have seen where malls are going right now,” said Dan Schmitt, Supervisor for the Brookland District, when the project was approved in 2020.

But Bickmeier and the county hope the sports complex will serve as an anchor for the surrounding restaurants and shops, bringing in new business. This isn’t the first time the county has tried this strategy – the Nova Aquatics Center, which cost $18 million, was intended to revitalize the Regency Mall in Tuckahoe.

“That’s been kind of transformative for Regency, and they’re just getting started over there,” Bickmeier said.

The county expects construction to “go vertical” within the next two months, as the facilities walls are erected. As for the facilities grand opening, Bickmeier said to expect it in “late Summer, early Fall in September of 2023.”

In addition to the new sport facilities, a representative of Rebkee, the company that manages Virginia Center Commons, said new housing will be completed in late 2022 and early 2023, with a hotel and other tourist facilities to be constructed at an undetermined date.