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Summer start date projected for Bridgeport Indoor Rec Complex

BRIDGEPORT, W.Va. — Construction is projected to begin this summer on the long-awaited Bridgeport Indoor Recreation Complex off W.Va. 279.

Architects from Omni and Associates presented a short video during Monday’s Bridgeport City Council meeting, walking viewers through a digital rendering of the facility.

The $55 million, 150,000 square-foot facility will be located near the current recreation complex at Charles Pointe and is set to be complete in 2020.

“As impressive as that nine-minute was that was shown last night by our architect, I can actually say that it does not do it justice,” Councilman Dustin Vincent said Tuesday on WAJR’s “Talk of the Town.” “It was a great sneak-peek of a lot of the things that are going to be offered as part of the complex, but there’s actually so much more versatility, and uses and programming that can be done that was not shown in that video. It’s really just the tip of the iceberg.”

The project, patterned off the neighboring outdoor recreation complex, is created to serve multiple purposes, Vincent said.

“There’s the potential for really good tournaments to be held on the weekends, which we currently have about 17 pretty-good sized baseball tournaments throughout the year at the existing complex. Throughout the week, it offers really an amazing facility for local use,” he said.

Utilizing both the local community and tourism opportunities, Vincent said he views the complex as an economic driver.

“This facility really will have, I believe, a noticeable impact on the area,” he said. “When you have an economic engine that brings tourism and brings people from outside in, that’s kind of what increases the bottom dollar, so to speak, in your area.”

When those within North Central West Virginia shop and eat in the region, Vincent said that only moves around the money that’s already here by trading back and forth.

“But when you can bring in 2,000 to 3,000 people from four and five hours away for a weekend, and they stay here at the area hotels, shop at the area stores, eat at the area restaurants, that’s outside money being brought into North Central West Virginia that ultimately could benefit the state here and really increase the financial situation for a lot of business owners in the area,” he said.

But the economic impact won’t only be indirect.

The complex itself will create jobs within the community, including building maintenance, a general manager and a program manager.

“We have projections based upon programs that we expect to offer and plan to offer,” Vincent said. “We’re expecting anywhere from 10 to 16 full-time positions, and then depending upon the course, it could be anywhere from 25 to 40-plus part-time positions to go along with it.”

Hopes for such a complex stem back to the 1970s when residents came to council addressing the need for indoor facilities.

In 1990s, interest quickly began to rise through questionnaires and surveys completed by city residents.

But it wasn’t until roughly five years ago when Bridgeport City Council hired a firm to complete a feasibility study that it truly appeared it could be a reality.

“As part of that feasibility, we set up focus groups with many different organizations, anything from senior citizens to youth soccer groups, youth basketball, volleyball, swim. We had about 250 people involved in that process,” Vincent said.

City officials met with each of the groups, asking what their needs are and what can be done to satisfy those needs.

Another survey was completed, this one with more than 900 responses, to compile even more information.

“All of that information was utilized over the last five years to help develop the plan and the overall building that was revealed last night,” Vincent said.

Bridgeport then passed a 1 percent sales tax in order to fund the project. Revenue from that additional tax has fully-funded the $55 million project.

The result, a facility that will include six basketball courts, six volleyball courts, a natatorium, a competition-sized swimming pool, an indoor walking track, an indoor turf field and a fitness center.

A request for proposals is now out, and bids are beginning to roll in for the project. Construction is expected to start summer 2019.

Vincent doesn’t expect the Bridgeport Indoor Recreation facility to be the last development along W.Va. 279 — an area he said has endless possibilities.

“It gives great access from the interstate, and there’s so much potential land there for growth that it really could spur off for support businesses, restaurants, and other things that would want to locate there as a result of it,” he said.

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