Indoor sports complex could mean millions for the Grand Strand

MYRTLE BEACH, SC (WMBF) - Sports tourism is big business for the Grand Strand. A new study released Tuesday by the National Association of Sports Commissions (NASC) shows a new indoor sports complex could raise Myrtle Beach's profile in the sport's world. Tuesday, city leaders discussed plans to find the money to fund the new facilities.

The new 90, 000 sq. ft. facility would house 10 wooden courts, seating for 1,000, and would cost $10 million to build. Despite the hefty price tag, research from the NASC study shows it could mean big business for the Grand Strand.

"They are projecting a facility like this could make an additional $25 million ," said City of Myrtle Beach Mayor John Rhodes. He says the goal now is to find a way to fund it. "We got to figure out how to raise the money to build the facility."

Don Schumacher is with NASC, and  he says the potential for growth in sports tourism is huge in the Grand Strand. "We are already one of the few leaders in the country as you complete you package here."

The indoor sports complex would host basketball and volleyball tournaments and cheerleading and dance competitions. Myrtle Beach currently does not have a facility large enough to host major indoor sporting events all under one roof.

Alex Sing with the Grand Strand Juniors Volleyball Club can attest to that. Sing is gearing up to host a big volleyball tournament this weekend. "We're currently sending 90 teams down to Charleston over the weekend because we just couldn't find the space for the needs we had here in Myrtle Beach. "

The study also projects sporting events hosted inside the facility could lure in an additional 55,000 visitors  over the first few years. Good news for local businesses who depend on tourists to keep them afloat.

"It really helps promote our business," said Connie Robinette with the Kangaroo Pouch at the Market Common.

City leaders are considering the possibility of private investors and possible partnerships with a local college to cover the cost. Mayor Rhodes says for now they're not looking to tax payers to foot the bill. "We're trying to figure it out without having to even go there."

The study based projections on a facility located on HGTC's campus in Market Common, near Grand Park. Another potential location in discussion is the Myrtle Beach Convention Center.

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