Parks and Recreation Director Brad Epperley and Christiansburg Aquatic Center Director Terry Caldwell recently spoke to elected officials and local government staff from across the state about sports tourism and the efforts the Town of Christiansburg has made to attract athletes and their families to the community.
The pair addressed the annual conference of the Virginia Municipal League in Roanoke.
They talked about the economic impact sports and recreation have on the quality of life and the revenue stream for the Town of Christiansburg.
Caldwell stated that the Christiansburg Aquatic Center has hosted the ACC Swimming and Diving Championship, NCAA zone dive meets and numerous collegiate, club and high school swim meets. The meets often bring more than 1,000 swimmers to Town, along with their parents and family members. Last year, more than 10,500 athletes and 20,000 spectators from 13 states competed at the Aquatic Center. These meets produced an estimated $4.5 million economic impact for the area.
Caldwell also felt that the Aquatic Center had a tremendous impact on the Christiansburg community by offering swim lessons, a newly formed middle school swim league, facilities for senior citizens and a place for kids and adults to go to have fun and relax.
She highlighted the program the Montgomery County School System has for second graders. For the last several years every second-grade student in Montgomery County has had the opportunity to go the Christiansburg Aquatic Center three times. During each session, students have a water safety class, a swim lesson and fun time. Many students have never been in a swimming pool prior to this opportunity. Several local groups donate money to pay for the swim sessions.
Epperley spoke about the Harkrader Sports Complex, which has hosted many national events, including the Dixie Boys World Series, the USSA Baseball World Series and the Nations Eastern World Series. The Harkrader complex hosts tournament from April to October. This past year, more than 11,000 players and 44,000 spectators came to the complex, booking 2,319 hotel rooms and eating meals at Christiansburg restaurants during their stay. Hotels and restaurants are major revenue sources for the Town of Christiansburg.
Epperley stated that Christiansburg has established itself as a destination for swim meets and baseball tournaments, and the town now has plans to develop a major park near the New River Valley Mall. The park will include artificially-surfaced rectangular fields for soccer, lacrosse and football tournaments.
With the addition of the new park, Christiansburg will be able to host tournaments for numerous sports. Epperley and Caldwell declared to the gathering that Christiansburg will thus be “The Place to Play” for athletes throughout the South, even while the Town maintains facilities for the Christiansburg community.
Christiansburg Town Council