A $68 million sports facility opens in Virginia Beach

How the ‘Virginia Beach Sports Center’ came to be and everything it offers the community 

~Matthew Morhiser, Sports Editor~

If you have traveled down 19th Street in Virginia Beach over the past two years, you may have noticed something colossal being built. A gargantuan complex of over 285,000 square feet. If the heart is the center, then Virginia Beach’s soul is the oceanfront, and that is where you can now find 12 basketball courts, 24 volleyball courts, six multipurpose rooms, a 200 meter “hydraulic banked track” and over 5,000 available seats for spectators at the Virginia Beach Sports Center. This new and towering building is the latest multifaceted recreation center for residents of the Hampton Roads and Tidewater areas. Whether permitted attendees are interested in the athletic competition the center offers or they want to get a nice sweat going from a workout courtesy of the center’s state of the art equipment, local and visiting persons will have a full list of options available to them. 

However, at only 0.8 miles away from the Atlantic Coast and the oceanfront, the Virginia Beach Sports Center is not a lone physical recreation facility dedicated to eventual league tournaments and general play. The center is minutes away from oceanfront hotels, such as the four-star Westin Virginia Beach Town Center Hotel, restaurants, like the always bustling Surf Club Ocean Grill and the city’s most notable attraction housing everything from gift shops to “The Christmas Mouse” holiday themed store, the Virginia Beach Boardwalk. 

So, how did this local ambitious athletic endeavor come to be? In July of 2018, the Virginia Beach City Council approved a multi-step plan to create a sporting center across from the city’s Convention Center. The choice was made in accordance with the council’s “Entertainment District” initiative launched in Feb. of the same year. With a dormant empty plot sitting across from the Convention Center, the city jumped at the opportunity to add another local amenity to become a major assist in the city’s largest source of income, tourism. The fact the Sports Center would only be within a day of driving for two-thirds of the country made its erection appealing. The building’s construction was divided into six phases. 

The first phase in Jan. of 2019 saw the building of the center’s concrete foundation and flooring. The second phase, primarily taking place the following month, included securing the steel framework for the center’s common area. The third phase concluded nearly six months later, as the construction of the center’s marketing point to interested indoor track organizations, its own indoor track, took time to complete. In addition, this phase also included the establishment of beams, columns, roofing and walls. The fourth phase is when the building of the aforementioned 12 basketball courts and 24 volleyball courts was completed. The penultimate fifth phase was one for drywalling, heating, ventilation, air conditioning, electrical and all other finishing accoutrements to the center’s inside. The sixth and final phase focused heavily on the outside of the building, and work was done on the entry plaza and parking areas. At the end of two years of work, the $68 million dollar pioneering undertaking was complete. 

As it turns out, a multi-million dollar building investment actually has a lot to offer both its regulars and visitors. In direct service to the 18 and up crowd, the Sports Center will cater to those wanting more from the basketball and volleyball courts ordinarily offered. Beginning on Oct. 12 and lasting till Dec. 19, the Sports Center will offer an adult basketball league with trained referees, championships and weekly statistical leaderboard updates. Registration for the league has already closed, and the entry level price for the league was $90 per player. Each team must have a minimum of five players, and the season will consist of seven regular season games and a brief postseason. Additionally, there will be three different divisions in the league. There will be an under six foot recreational league, a division for skilled competitive play and a division for less intensive competition. 

There will also be an adult volleyball league running at the same time. During the same holiday season, a men’s division and a women’s division will play Monday nights with first service beginning at 6:30 p.m. Like the basketball league, registration for the volleyball league has closed. Each team must have at least four paying players, and once again, there will be different separations within the divisions to allow for the players’ preferred speed and magnitude of their game. There will be both a competitive level and recreational level in the league. As of now, only the basketball and volleyball leagues have been announced, but there are plans for more social sports in the future. 

But us societally functioning adults can’t be the only ones having all the fun. The Sports Center has already announced their first children-centric class in the form of “Lil’ Kickers: Soccer for Kids.” For 50 minutes each week, children ranging in age from 18 months to 7 years old can learn teambuilding skills and exercise their bodies in a controlled environment through the introduction of soccer. The classes are directly sculpted to fit the abilities of young children, and no prior experience in soccer is required. If the weekly allotted times or group setting is not ideal for a family, they can enroll in their own set of private classes. 

The Virginia Beach Sports Center offers a new sporting experience for anyone in the country. Everything, from equipment to the hardwood courts, is state of the art. That is, in part, why the Virginia Showcase, a national track & field event, has already booked their event for the center from Jan. 14-16. 5,000 athletes, including individuals from Jamaica, will make the trip to Virginia Beach to compete at the country’s latest sporting epicenter. 

The Virginia Beach Sports Center officially opened on Oct. 12. Whether you want to real competition against other local residents or you just want to get your heart pumping with a quick game or jog, the center is your best place to do it. 

Information compiled from their official website: https://vbsportscenter.com/

The project’s history obtained from: https://www.vbgov.com/government/departments/communications-office/hot-topics/entertainment-district/Pages/Sports-Center.aspx and https://www.vbgov.com/government/departments/communications-office/citypage/Pages/Entertainment-District.aspx
Virginia Showcase information obtained from: https://www.pilotonline.com/757teamz/vp-sp-track-virginia-showcase-20200701-72dsszkswrajro3zdgl3hhxtlq-story.html

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