HENRICO COUNTY, Va. (WRIC) — Richmond has been chosen out of top-ranking teams from cities all across the country as the site for the 2024 National Wheelchair Basketball Association (NWBA) Championships.
The 2024 championships will make history as the first national-level sporting events to take place at the Henrico Sports and Events Center, which is expected to be ready this September — seven months before the big championship.
Sportable is a part of the Richmond community that creates an environment for athletes with physical disabilities and visual impairment to play and compete. Executive Director Hunter Leeman said wheelchair basketball has been a part of the Richmond community for 40 years.
“Richmond considers itself a sports town,” Leeman explained. “In order for us to be a true sports town, we need to be a sports town for everyone.”
Leeman is already counting down the days until the 2024 championships.
“These are some of the best athletes in the world and certainly in the nation,” Leeman said. “And they’re going to be right here in Richmond. And it’s wheelchair basketball. It’s high-level competition.”
The team is also counting down the days until the venue is complete. Henrico’s highly anticipated new sports and events center is still under construction, set to be ready by this September. But Leeman isn’t worried about the venue being finished in time for the major event.
“Matter of fact, we’re hoping to host a regional wheelchair basketball tournament at the facility in October, which is great,” Leeman said. “We’re just excited that we can be part of, you know, the history of that facility as it opens.”
This year, Sportable’s “Rim Riders,” the league’s adult competitive team, is ranked 14th in the country. They’re hoping to bring that same — if not more — competitive spirit and energy to the home-court next year.
The team also hopes to see that spirit and energy radiate across the community. The 2024 championships are expected to draw in around 7,000 people.
“It’ll be a really big hub for economic activity,” Leeman explained. “Just for the people right here in our community.”
The team and its partners, like Richmond Region Tourism, Henrico Sports and Entertainment Authority, have a year to prepare to welcome out-of-state coaches, fans, and world-class athletes to the Richmond community.
“Our community will hopefully embrace them and generate the respect they deserve,” Leeman said.
Before they get ready to play host next year, Sportable’s youth and adult teams are competing in this year’s National Wheelchair Basketball Association Championships in Kansas.