New Youth Sports Complex a game changer for Abilene
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- Local News
By Debi Schultz – ACVB Sports Alliance
The Abilene Convention & Visitors Bureau joins the community to celebrate the groundbreaking for the Dodge Jones Youth Sports Center. This project has been a longtime dream, and we’re blessed that the Abilene Youth Sports Authority (AYSA) worked so diligently to raise more than $11 million to make it a reality. We look forward to fall 2019 when it will open its doors. Kick off.
At the Abilene Convention & Visitors Bureau, we’re already working to fill the center. Youth sporting events are the fastest growing segment of the travel industry, and athletic event planners often book space far in advance, a year or more. We’re working strategically to ensure the right people hear this good news. It’s an important task: The complex is expected to host more than 200,000 visitors annually, and the local economy should reap $4 million each year in new consumer spending from those athletic guests.
Families routinely travel as far as 250 miles to compete in youth tournaments and events. Abilene is a prime location to provide services to teams from Fort Worth, Dallas, Waco, Killeen, Austin, San Angelo, Midland, Odessa, Lubbock and Wichita Falls. Research shows 10.3 million sports loving people live within the market served by this new complex. We’re targeting them.
It’s a great product to sell! With a multipurpose 55,500 square-foot space, almost any indoor sport competition will be able to call the youth sports center home. Regional, as well as state and national rights holders for basketball and volleyball already are being told about the new state of the art facility to be completed. With its four regulation-sized basketball courts and eight volleyball courts, Abilene will have the opportunity to produce local and regional programing for each sport. But, don’t stop there! We’ll shoot for all kinds of events: cheerleading, gymnastics, martial arts, trainings, sports expos, pole vault, football training, even corn hole, the list goes on.
The staff at AYSA and the ACVB will work closely to merge the best of both worlds: local, regional and statewide events that generate economic impact for our community, all while enhancing the quality of life for youth and families in Abilene.
It will be a posh place to watch teams play. The Dodge Jones Youth Sports Center will offer elevated seating for better spectator vision and smoother transitions between games, a referee lounge, pro shop, meeting spaces, strategic audiovisual system, court spacing and “buffer zones” for event flexibility and player safety along with a great Abilene location: by the zoo, Grover Nelson Park, Shotwell Stadium and Taylor County Expo Center, which is also getting a Texas sized facelift.
The corner of Hwy 36 and Loop 322 is going to be a great place for athletes and their families. With the proximity of the dog park, the zoo, Maxx Air, Primetime and the Expo Center filled with rodeo and animal events, visitors will find plenty to do for entertainment during their downtime.
On a more personal note: This week also is bittersweet. We shed tears of joy and grief. This ground breaking, for me, is dedicated to Jon Smith, AYSA’s longtime executive director, Abilene cheerleader, fundraiser, a man with a heart for kiddos, husband, dad and longtime friend, who lost his battle to cancer before seeing this day. He took us to the finish line.
TagsEvents, Tourism, Sports, AYSA