FLORENCE, SC (WMBF) - The city of Florence is adding two brand new basketball and soccer complexes. The basketball complex will be built across from the Barnes Street Activity Center.
With the help of the Doctors Bruce and Lee Foundation a $4 million brick building will be built with three full sized basketball courts and a total of 31,000 square feet. It will be able to hold a thousand people and City Recreation Manager, Darlene Buchanan tells me all the city's games will now be played there.
Darlene Buchanan, Recreation Manager for the City of Florence says,"We believe the gymnasium will be one of the anchors that is just within steps of downtown and all the development going on down there."
Buchanan believes the location is perfect to help get kids off the street and into a facility to exercise. Florence Mayor, Steve Wukela says the city has wanted to expand and build a full size gymnasium for more than two decades. He says now it's time to bring more attention to soccer and basketball for the sports tourism in the area.
"We've seen that with tennis, softball and baseball. Our proximity to the highway, our proximity to the beach and Charleston and other tourist destinations and just the quality of our facilities have caused us to really become a sports destination," says Wukela.
Across the city 143 acres of unused land was also purchased by the Drs. Bruce and Lee Foundation to develop into a ten field soccer complex. $6 million will be used to irrigate, grade and construct the complex. Being right off Palmetto Street near I-95 the city hopes commercial development will also come to the area.
"The fact that they are coming to be at the same time is unusual for us. For not just our programs, but also for our community and we'll be able to bring to Florence tournaments and things we weren't able to attract previously," said Buchanan.
Wukela says, "If you look at statistics as far as youth sports, both soccer and basketball are among the fastest growing sports of all youth sports so I think we've got our finger exactly on the pulse of where we need to be."
Both facilities will be open to the public. Construction will begin simultaneously in the next couple weeks with plans for each to open Spring of 2017.