MYRTLE BEACH, SC (WMBF) - The completion date of the Myrtle Beach sports center is almost here, and although it won't open for another week, city leaders are getting a first look at the project they helped put into motion, in a "Presentation of the Keys."
The city will get its own set of keys to see what's been done, in a ceremony on Thursday.
The $13.8 million project is finally nearing its highly-anticipated completion; however, there's still work to be done. The leaders of the Sports Center told WMBF News, they have a few more items on the checklist: electrical work, training on new equipment and a lot of cleaning. All of this should be done in time for the first event, which is next weekend.
This upcoming volleyball tournament, March 7, will make use of the 16 volleyball courts inside the sports center. It also features eight basketball courts.
Center and city leaders say opening the Myrtle Beach Sports Center is going to change the face of sports tourism for the Grand Strand.
"Allowing volleyball tournaments to double with the use of the convention center still coupling with the school facilities and allowing basketball tournaments to grow and just giving them one roof to play under," said Myrtle Beach Sports Center Marketing Manager Mark Beale.
Millions of dollars have gone into building this new sports center and the goal is to see it turn a profit adding to the continued success of sports tourism throughout the Grand Strand.
"We already have a over $100 million dollar economic impact on sports tourism in general," Beale said. "This is just another piece of inventory that's gonna up that number."
There's a lot in store for this new complex. While it will host mostly basketball, volleyball, cheer and dance events, once the ball gets rolling, the plans are to expand to other events.
General Manager John McDonald said there will be a push for unique sports tourism events to draw in both first-time and repeat visitors. In fact, McDonald said there is one in the works and we'll hear more about it next month once all the contributors sign off.
The good news is, the center is booked pretty solid. Beale said until August, there's an event every weekend, except for Memorial Day. According to McDonald, in the first five months the new sports center will be open there are about two dozen events on schedule and more contracts are in the works.
While there will be some perks for locals, the idea behind the sports center is to bring in visitors and add to our tourism industry.
"The impact is gonna be very substantial, we've got a lot of first time visitors coming in with kids to play in events," said Beale. "All studies show that sports tourism is the fastest-growing tourism segment out there."
There has been discussion about leadership programs being anchored in the sports center, and the GM says we may hear more about this in the coming months. Right now the focus is getting these first events off the ground starting as early as next weekend.
During Thursday's ceremony, at 4 p.m., city leaders will have a chance to make the first shots on the brand new basketball courts. Some local students will also get the opportunity to taste test the concession stand food. Local students from the city's recreation programs will also test-flush the center's bathrooms, to be sure that everything is working properly.