Construction began Wednesday for the long-anticipated Placer Valley Sports and Event Center in Roseville, with officials hopeful that the massive indoor sports complex will be open as soon as February 2020.
The new complex will add 160,000 square foot of indoor sports space – enough to fit 12 full-size basketball courts, proponents were keen to repeat at Wednesday’s groundbreaking ceremony – to the existing 61-acre Placer County fairground facility, which will also get a sprucing up as part of the renovations.
Local officials anticipate that the complex, rivaling the Sacramento Convention Center in size, will be able to host trade shows, concerts and graduations in addition to offering locker rooms, offices and concessions to accommodate cheer, gymnastics, volleyball and wrestling tournaments and competitions.
“This really is part of a regional effort to bring folks, tourism dollars, what have you, to our area,” said Placer County Supervisor Kirk Uhler at the event.
Lauryl Hernandez, a Placer Valley Tourism board member, said the organization has been marketing and lobbying the area to major national events and sponsors for more than a decade. It currently works with 70 event organizers annually, with past events including USA Softball and USA Swimming tournaments, and even college Quidditch games, Hernandez said.
“Many have asked if there’s a demand for the size of the facility like this here in Roseville,” Hernandez told attendees. “This isn’t a ‘build it and they will come’ type of (project).”
One of the future events for the new center includes hosting the Junior Olympic Level 9 Western Championship for USA Gymnastics in May 2020. Alex Irvine, a 13-year-old gymnast with local club Byers Gymnastics Center who attended the groundbreaking, said she and the rest of the team are excited to get into the indoor complex soon.
“Our gym is nice, but this will be a lot bigger,” Irvine said.
The event center will cost $34 million to build, funded by both the county and Placer Valley Tourism. A local feasibility study on the project anticipates the complex will generate at least $12 million annually to the economy in South Placer County.
Heather Hilton, director of sales for the Larkspur Landing hotel, previously told The Bee that local hoteliers look forward to the boost in guests from larger events, estimated to bring in between 28,000 and 30,000 more paid nights each year.
“At a time when others are focusing on the dysfunction of government,” said David Attaway, CEO of Placer Valley Tourism, making a veiled reference to the ongoing partial federal government shutdown, “this is a shining example of how our local governments can work together to make big projects happen.”
The sports complex reflects a trend in cities across the country, where local officials are looking to build on the popularity of youth sports to generate tourism revenue. In the Sacramento region, a new aquatic center is being proposed for North Natomas, and another aquatic center in Elk Grove is set to open in time for this year’s swim season after construction delays.
Though WinterGreen Research estimates the U.S. youth sports market is currently valued at $17 billion in the United States, overall youth sports participation has declined in recent years, according to a 2017 Sports & Fitness Industry Association and The Aspen Institute report, which cites the high cost of joining organized teams and too many unqualified volunteer coaches as factors.