August 23, 2009
By DEBBIE HALL - Bulletin Staff Writer
Bob Davis says today’s grand opening of the Smith River Sports Complex is the realization of a dream.
Davis is chairman of the Southern Virginia Recreational Facilities Authority board, which manages the complex. He is a former member of the Harvest Foundation of the Piedmont, which funded construction of the complex.
“As someone who has been with this project from the get-go, this is a huge day for me ... the culmination of a labor of love,” Davis said.
The grand opening of the $8.7 million sports complex will kick off at 2 p.m. today at the facility off Irisburg Road (Virginia 650) on Sportsplex Way.
Organizers are encouraging area residents to attend the free event. They should bring lawn chairs, blankets or soccer chairs and sunscreen to enjoy the activities and entertainment.
When plans for the complex were unveiled in the fall of 2006, its cost was estimated at $4.5 to $5 million.
However, as he and others visited facilities in several areas, Davis said recommendations for improvements were made and accepted by the Harvest board.
“They felt, if we are going to do this, let’s do it right,” he said. “This will be our first project the community can put their hands on.”
The resulting complex has emerged as a huge community asset since it opened to the public July 1, Davis said.
“It is being utilized in ways I didn’t anticipate,” he added.
Not only will soccer leagues play there, but there are pickup games for both men and women as well as soccer camps and games for youngsters, he said. Churches and other groups are renting the facility for reunions and picnics, and the walking trail, playground and other areas are attracting regular visitors.
“Speaking for me personally, from the July 1 opening until now, use of the complex has far exceeded the expectations I had,” Davis said.
For instance, a teacher from Patrick County Schools recently called and asked about the cost to use the complex for a class activity, he said. “That is just one example” of the facility’s broad appeal.
The sports complex “is a tremendous community asset,” he said. “I’m hoping everyone who visits will tell 10 friends” about it.
The complex also was envisioned as an economic driver, by attracting travel soccer teams and their spectators to the area who will boost the local economy, officials said.
Davis said more work is required to “make the complex an economic driver,” continue to be a resource for the community and become self-sustaining. While “those are lofty goals that we still have to achieve,” he said they are attainable.
Gates open at 1:30 p.m. for today’s grand opening.
Paul B. Toms Jr., president of the Harvest Board of Directors, will welcome those present at 2 p.m.
A number of other activities, including exhibitions, other games, clinics, exhibits by several agencies/organizations, information about biking skills, walking tours and the Infinity Acres Petting Ranch, will begin at 2:15 p.m.
The music will begin at 4 p.m. featuring Montana Young, Amber Collins and No Speed Limit, Jeff Little, Wayne Henderson, Helen White, Magna Vista High School Choir and Martinsville High School Gospel Choir.
In case of rain, the grand opening will be rescheduled for Sunday, Aug. 30.
For last-minute information or directions to the complex, visit www.harvestfoundation.org or www.southernvirginiasports.com.
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