Rock Hill council to visit ‘match’ for planned indoor sport complex

The Rock Hill Sports Commission recommends that the city build an indoor sports facility, as Myrtle Beach did with its sports center, shown here.
The Rock Hill Sports Commission recommends that the city build an indoor sports facility, as Myrtle Beach did with its sports center, shown here. The (Myrtle Beach) Sun News

City officials are taking a field trip to see a potential “match” for a proposed indoor sports facility that could go up in downtown Rock Hill.

Rock Hill City Council members, the city manager, and members of the city’s sports commission will travel to Spartanburg on Tuesday to tour the Upward Indoor Recreational Facility, a potential model for a similar complex the sports commission has proposed as part of the redeveloped Knowledge Park area.

Officials will leave together from City Hall on Tuesday afternoon, and plan to spend about an hour and a half touring the Spartanburg facility – part of a larger, privately-owned campus of outdoor athletic fields – before heading home.

“It’s not a perfect match, but it’s about the size of what we want to do,” said David Vehaun, Rock Hill city manager. “We’ll look at the building, how it’s laid out, then decide if we like it or not.”

Vehaun said the group will mostly bypass the center’s basketball and volleyball courts in favor of the “back end” of the facility – “closets and storage space, the guts of the operation” – and find out what those who have already built an indoor complex “might know now that they would do differently.”

The Rock Hill Sports Commission proposed earlier this year that the city build an indoor facility for basketball, volleyball and cheerleading events that would complement the city’s outdoor sports offerings, such as the bicycling facilities at Riverwalk and soccer fields at Manchester Meadows.

Such a facility could boost Rock Hill’s sports tourism intake, a category the commission says generated a $21 million economic impact for the city in 2014, but mostly during the warmer months when its outdoor activities are more attractive.

Officials hope an indoor center could draw other activities during the winter months, ranging from wrestling, ping pong or kickball, to CrossFit and indoor batting cages.

John Gettys, sports commission chairman, told the City Council in January they hope to open the facility near Winthrop University so the college could use the space for practice or host intramural athletics there.

But commissioners haven’t designated a site for the facility, and Vehaun said one goal of the field trip is decide how a facility on an open campus could fit into an urban area.

The city’s sports commissioners hope to open the facility by September 2017.

Last summer, city officials took a similar trip to Ohio, where they toured the cities of Cleveland and Kent to learn more about the municipalities’ downtown revitalization efforts and their public transportation options, as the city considers options for its own downtown streetcar.

Another delegation planned to do a similar tour of Little Rock, Ark., which turned into a visit to Atlanta’s public transit system after the Rock Hill group got that far but missed a flight to its destination.

Bristow Marchant: 803-329-4062, @BristowatHome