Years ago, the leaders of our community gave Rock Hill a motto that lasted for over 50 years. They called our community “The Good Town.”
In 1985 the city opened Cherry Park. The idea was to create a venue for the people of Rock Hill to congregate and work to strengthen our community. As a result of the success of Cherry Park, two years later, Mayor Betty Jo Rhea and the city council formally changed the name of the Rock Hill Parks and Recreation Department to the Rock Hill Parks, Recreation and Tourism Department.
Since 1987, the Rock Hill has led our state and the Southeast in a defined brand of tourism known as sports tourism. In the last 10 years the direct economic impact that tournaments and other uses of our multiple venues provide to the businesses of Rock Hill is over $157.3 million. Remember, we had a severe recession within this 10-year time period.
Within the last five years the city’s Sports Commission was formed, whose duty is to seek the highest and best use of the existing sports venues built in Rock Hill over the last 30 years. In addition, the commission took as its charge the identification of other ways to expand our community’s sports tourism opportunities.
The location and construction of an indoor sports facility in downtown Rock Hill was recently finalized. It is anticipated that, once the sports center is operational, it will attract more than 172,000 visitors to our city annually, adding $10 million in economic impact to our business community every year.
This venue and its location were presented to the mayor and council by the Sports Commission as an opportunity to greatly enhance economic development in downtown Rock Hill. And just recently the developer of University Center announced that a four-story hotel would be built adjacent to the sports center. think of that, a hotel in downtown Rock Hill!
The most exciting sports-related event in Rock Hill since the creation of Cherry Park will occur this summer. The world is coming to play with us.
Imagine 20,000 visitors spending time in Rock Hill over a 10-day period who talk differently than we do; who have different life experiences than we do and who will be recognized as “not from around here.”
These visitors are coming to Rock Hill specifically to participate or watch the UCI BMX World Championship from July 22-29. This is an opportunity for us to show the world the best that our country and our state have to offer.
The direct economic impact of this 10-day event is expected to exceed $13 million for the region. The planning for this event is much more than that of a bicycle race. In addition to cycling, the organizing committee has planned art shows, programs, food trucks and a variety of other activities. This organizing group is preparing our town for the world stage.
It will be an opportunity for those visiting our community to meet us and have a chance to truly be in contact with what makes Rock Hill a Good Town – namely, its people. There will be more information to come that better identifies the major sponsors, tireless volunteers and opportunities for fun related to and during the World Championship as we get closer to the date.
If you want to be involved in this historic event, visit www.rockhillscbmx.com to sign up. The purpose of this message is to do what we don’t do very well in our community – take a minute to measure up and be thankful for the wonderful opportunities each of us enjoys by the good fortune, luck or grace of living in Rock Hill, the Good Town, and to remember, it all started with a park.
John Gettys, a Rock Hill attorney, is chairman of the Rock Hill Sports Commission. He is an announced candidate for mayor of Rock HIll.