North Myrtle Beach targets 2014 debut for sports complex

bdickerson@thesunnews.comAugust 28, 2012 

— The North Myrtle Beach City Council approved the final design for its 145-acre sports complex and set up a schedule that has its first event taking place on March 1, 2014.

During Monday’s workshop, the council also approved the architect’s approach to the sign at the main entrance; the location and schematic design for an outdoor amphitheater; the location for a privately financed and operated zipline; and the location and design of a veteran’s plaza, said Pat Dowling, city spokesman.

Construction of the North Myrtle Beach Park and Sports Complex is expected to begin in mid-November on city-owned land west of the Intracoastal Waterway, according to a press release. The city would take ownership of the facility, move in and prepare for activities during February 2014.

On March 1, 2014, the first sports tourism event would take place at the sports complex.

City officials are hoping the complex will take North Myrtle Beach beyond simply a summer resort and provide it with year-round economic benefits.

“It’ll really mean a lot to our annual economy,” Dowling said.

Dowling added that a Coastal Carolina University study, which was based on 18 proposed sporting events held at the complex, indicated there would be a $10.5 million direct impact for the first full year with all events running. The community’s indirect impact would be $2.1 million, while the induced impact – dollars spent by those in town for sports tournaments, then going back into the local economy – would be $1.6 million.

The venture should generate about 192 jobs throughout the city through sports event spending, Dowling said.

It’s a venture that includes not only athletics facilities, a zipline and an amphitheater, but space reserved for a waterpark. That portion was not discussed at Monday’s workshop, Dowling said, but is tentatively scheduled for a Sept. 10 workshop.

The lease will designate a 5 to 7 acre space for the approximately $26 million water park at the back of the complex near the soccer fields, and will likely include provisions for the city to operate the park in the event the developers default on their investment.

As for the complex’s other amenities, the 2,300-square-foot Veteran’s Plaza will have five 25-foot flagpoles for the different branches of service and one 35-foot flagpole for the U.S., South Carolina and POW/MIA flags, the release stated.

The amphitheater will be 63 feet wide by 30 feet deep, and is designed to accommodate large performances, such as a 40-person orchestra.

The privately-funded zipline is expected to be 4,500-feet long, Dowling said.

City manager Mike Mahaney said they’re striving for 60/40 usage for local residents. The advantage of having a sports complex in North Myrtle Beach is those who are used to driving to Charleston or Florence to play in traveling leagues can now have tournaments right at home, besides outside dollars coming in.

“It improves the quality of life for our citizens also,” Mahaney said.

Contact BRAD DICKERSON at 626-0301.

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