Rendering of the future Henrico County Sports & Events Center. (Rendering courtesy of Henrico County
Construction crews are hard at work putting up tilt panels to set up the structure of Henrico County's new indoor Sports and Convocation Center at the soon-to-be-closed Virginia Center Commons in Glen Allen, Va.
At the construction site Sept. 19, Henrico leaders gathered to give the public an update on the construction process and a glimpse at the facility, according to Richmond TV station WBBT.
"The coming days mark some exciting times in the development of the sports and event center," said Henrico County Manager John Vithoulkas.
In early 2020, the start of work on the $50 million facility was delayed for several months due to the COVID-19 pandemic. Later that year, in October, county officials announced that plans for the project had received the green light to continue.
The Henrico Sports and Convocation Center is part of a redevelopment of the old Virginia Center Commons, a 31-year-old mall due north of downtown Richmond that is set to be permanently closed Oct. 31.
Crews worked with a crane to erect 109 tilt panels, each weighing more than 100,000 lbs. The panels will form the exterior wall of the center. Following their placement, workers at the site were set to begin putting up the facility's steel beams, according to WBBT.
Local officials told the TV station that the indoor sports and entertainment center is expected to be complete in September 2023.
New Center Designed to Host Variety of Events
The overall size of the structure is approximately 185,000 sq. ft., Dennis Bickmeier, executive director of the Henrico Sports and Entertainment Authority, told WBBT. He added that it is being created to be adaptable and have enough flexibility to attract an array of events.
The Henrico Sports and Convocation Center's architects designed it to encompass more than 115,000-sq. ft. of space for 12 basketball courts, 24 volleyball courts, an arena with stadium seating and 3,500 fixed seats.
"That can expand to about 4,500 seats when you put seats on the floor for graduations, for concerts, and for [other] special events," Bickmeier said, noting that the facility "will allow for a lot of different types of events to [take place] at the same time. For example, we can have a concert going on in the small arena and still be playing basketball on the other side of the sound wall."
As the building blocks for the venue start to form for an opening date in 2023, Henrico officials also are working on the first full-year venue calendar for 2024.
"We're just going around right now and really trying to introduce the facility to organizations, like the Virginia High School League, and see if there's an opportunity to bid on some of the VHSL events," said Bickmeier.
He and other Henrico leaders believe the new indoor sports facility will offer the area more opportunities, including a boost for sports tourism.
"In 2021, sports tournaments in our county generated nearly $60 million in economic impact," explained Dan Schmitt, who serves as Henrico County's Brookland District Supervisor.
"[Those are] impressive numbers, but we lost out on another $33 million of impact for our residents and our community because we could not host indoor events of the size and scope we know this county is capable of hosting. The sky is truly the limit for sports tourism here in Henrico. The ripple effect on our area's economy for our residents, our businesses, and our taxpayers will be felt for generations to come."
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