Events are booked for almost every weekend between now and mid-August at the soon-to-be-opened Myrtle Beach Sports Center and many of those events will be new to the city.
Sports center General Manager John McDonald said several of the events held in the facility in the next six months have been held across Myrtle Beach before – many at city recreation centers or high schools – and are moving into the new space. Nine of the events booked so far are new to the city and only one has previously been held at the Myrtle Beach Convention Center, he said.
“And that [varsity cheer event] actually has grown so much that it will be held in both buildings,” he said of the event scheduled for March 26.
The Southeast Alliance Volleyball League – a new event to the city – will christen the $13.8 million, 100,000-square-foot building on March 7.
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All 25 of the events so far are on one-year contracts.
“We didn’t do any multi-year agreements so we can see how well the events perform,” he said. “Starting in 2016 we’ll analyze how this year went and we’ll start doing multi-year contracts.”
McDonald said he did not feel comfortable estimating the number of athletes the events would bring, and said he has not yet calculated what the direct spending might be from those in town for the events.
Myrtle Beach City Council voted in 2013 to build the indoor complex behind the city’s convention center aiming to boost sports tourism in Myrtle Beach, especially during the beach’s slower times of the year.
City Council members, senior staff and other officials will receive keys to the sports center during ceremonies Thursday afternoon. The seven council members and City Manager John Pedersen also will be given the opportunity to make the first goals in the eight courts.
Participants in the city’s youth recreation programs will get to taste concession food — along with City Council members — as well as test-flush the center’s bathrooms.
Construction on the center started in February 2014. The complex includes eight basketball courts that will be cross-lined to hold two volleyball courts each, a café and retail area and an entertainment zone as well as offices for sports center staff.
Mark Beale, business development manager and marketing manager for the sports center, said the facility also will have a multi-purpose room that could be used for the city’s partnership with Horry-Georgetown Technical College and Coastal Carolina University.
Coastal Carolina University and Horry-Georgetown Technical College would be able to use all city sports tourism venues as learning laboratories for their proposed sports tourism curricula.
Beale said the building will have no permanent seats as the seating arrangements would have to change depending on what was happening on the courts – and how many courts were being used at a time.
During basketball games, there would be at least 60 chairs for every two courts.
A prior design included a walkway across a large pond in front of the sports center, but budget restraints caused the removal of the bridge. There only will be handicapped parking available in front of the building. Others will park in parking lots that are a few hundred feet away from the building.