ROCKY MOUNT, N.C. (WRIC) — Henrico County is in talks to build a 200,000 square foot indoor sports venue. The county’s board of supervisors, recreation and parks officials and Richmond Region Tourism traveled to Rocky Mount, N.C., on Friday to see a similar venue that just opened.
8News toured the facility with them to learn more about the future of sports tourism in Henrico County. The venue in Rocky Mount is smaller than what local officials hope to build in Henrico, but a similar facility would focus on indoor sports recreation.
Henrico County says it’s missing out.
“There’s $33 million dollars in direct spending that we’re losing by not having access to a facility like this,” Neil Luther, the director of Henrico’s Recreation and Parks, told 8News Friday as he toured the Rocky Mount Event Center.
The center opened less than a year ago. Nearly two dozen Henrico County and tourism officials made the trip Friday to see the venue firsthand. They said they want to build one just like it, only bigger.
“We do a lot with outdoor tournaments and events and right now there’s no indoor facilities not just in Henrico but there are not many in the region,” said Henrico County Board of Supervisors Chairman Tyrone Nelson.
The North Carolina venue has eight full-size basketball courts. Henrico officials want the county’s facility to have 12 courts, convertible space for volleyball, wrestling, gymnastics or even events like concerts and graduations.
“It is tremendously helpful in terms of generating visitors and visitor spending,” Luther said.
Officials estimate the project, which they want to get built in the next few years, could cost between $30-$40 million.
“It’ll pay for itself pretty quickly,” Nelson told 8News. “I think again sports tourism is explosive.”
The next step? Finding a location in Henrico County.
“We have 40-some-thousand young people in Henrico that play organized sports,” Luther explained.
Henrico County is still gathering information at this time but officials told 8News they hope to have a location for the facility by the end of the year.