Only one Myrtle Beach City Council member made a basket on the first try Thursday, but that was enough to officially break in the new Myrtle Beach Sports Center.
The 100,000-square-foot center opened its doors to only city officials and some residents Thursday afternoon for a key ceremony. Members of city council, senior staff members and City Manager John Pedersen were given giant silver “keys” to the building.
The seven council members and Myrtle Beach Mayor John Rhodes took the first shots on the new basketball courts, but only Councilman Phil Render and Rhodes made it on the first try.
“They gave me the defective basket,” said Pedersen. “It was clearly the basket’s fault.”
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Children from Pepper Geddings Recreation Center’s after-school program were on-hand to test out concession snacks and make sure all the new toilets flushed correctly.
“We were really glad that those are all working,” Pedersen said.
Mayor Rhodes said the new complex should bring in $10 million more in sports tourism profit for the city, topping off the already $155 million in revenue each year. The focus on sports tourism is important for an ever-growing city like Myrtle Beach.
“We’ve got the rooms, we’ve got the restaurants, we’ve got the entertainment,” Rhodes said. “Myrtle Beach is the total package.”
The new complex is good news for sports popular during the cold months, such as volleyball and basketball. The eight indoor courts and spacious viewing areas will “be a hit” for traveling teams, said Randal Wallace, council member.
“It’s a whole new thing the city can offer the sports tourism industry,” Wallace said. “As long as we can continue to have these facilities, we’re that much closer to being the premiere destination for sports tourism.”
Twenty-five events are booked for almost every weekend between now and mid-August, including a varsity cheer event and volleyball tournament.
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.
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.
The center officially opens for its first event, the Southeast Alliance Volleyball League spring Madness Tournament, on March 7.