HENRICO COUNTY, Va. – On Monday in the old Virginia Center Commons, construction crews lifted the concrete walls of the new Henrico County Sports and Entertainment Center, each panel weighing approximately 100,000 pounds.
This is the final stage of this $50 million project that has been underway since before COVID-19.
The 115,000 square foot facility will include basketball and volleyball courts and a convocation center. Those overseeing the project say its location near Interstate 95 will make it a convenient and desirable location for sports and entertainment activities that will attract thousands of visitors.
“They stay in our hotels, they eat in our restaurants, they buy gas, whatever else they may need while they’re here in town and a lot of these tournaments can last maybe two or three nights, and we just had an event recently where they were here for 10 days,” said Dennis Bickmeier, executive director of Henrico Sports and Entertainment Authority.
In 2021, the Henrico County tournaments brought in nearly $60 million in sports tourism dollars. That dollar amount, Bickmeier said, is expected to double with the new facility.
“What we were missing, not having an indoor facility, was estimated to be around $33 million. So we think $60 million is going to jump pretty quickly in 2024 when we can have a full schedule of activities here in the building. It is therefore not uncommon to think that these 60 could double in 18 months, 36 months. »
Henrico County Board of Supervisors Vice Chairman Frank Thorton, who oversees the Fairfield district where the center is being built, said more tourism would mean more cars on the road, which planners will have to monitor.
“Henrico is becoming more urbanized, so there will be more traffic, so what we’re going to have to do as community stewards is listen to residents and see where we’re making those changes, where they can make those adjustments.”
Thorton said that despite potential traffic issues that could arise from increased sports tourism, the new center will be a win for more than Henrico County.
“While this is a boom for Henrico, it will help our sister communities. I’m very proud of that because at one time, the Richmond area didn’t have that.
Construction is expected to be completed in September 2023. Events will likely be scheduled from 2024.
Nearby, the new GreenCity development which includes a 17,000-seat arena is set to open in 2026 on the site of Best Product’s former headquarters.