The NW Sports Hub will remain the largest indoor amateur sports venue in the state with a 29,500-square-foot expansion currently in the works.
The 76,500-square-foot facility will balloon to 105,000 square feet with the expansion, allowing the addition of either four additional hardwood basketball courts or eight additional volleyball courts, either of which can be swapped out as needed for tournaments.
The NW Sports Hub, which opened in 2014, can currently accommodate three hardwood basketball courts, five volleyball courts, two full-size indoor soccer fields, a full-size Little League baseball field and a full-size softball field. The hub also hosts wrestling and pickleball tourneys, including the largest indoor pickleball tournament in the country.
The expansion and improvements have been planned for a couple years, slowed down in part by the COVID-19 pandemic, and ramped up in recent months due to the construction of competing sports facilities in the state.
“The reason we’re expanding the building is that we’re getting competitors from other locations in the state that are building larger buildings,” said Ron Averill, chair of the Lewis County Public Facilities board. “During tournaments, they’re able to accommodate more people and teams.”
The Podium, which is currently under construction in Spokane, has 75,000 square feet of playing surface, compared to the NW Sports Hub’s current 60,000 feet. But the hub’s expansion will bring its square footage up to 90,000, and will consist of two 195-foot by 75-foot buildings attached to the northeast corner of the existing building.
In addition, the City of Centralia wants the sports hub to add 80 paved parking spaces to handle the extra amount of visitors expected. The hub plans to add 160 spots, spread out from the parking lot next to Wheeler Field and over by the Centralia Rifle Club and youth baseball field. Barcott Construction began work on the parking lots Dec. 14 and expects to be finished by Dec. 24.
The economic benefits of the expansion to this area will be significant, said Dale Pullin, one of the two managing directors for the NW Sports Hub. A feasibility study utilized a couple models from the Borst Park Sports Complex’s outdoor fields, which are in the works to be upgraded to turf.
One person who visits for a weekend tournament represents about $157 in revenue for the area, and the new expansion will allow the NW Sports Hub to bring in up to 2,640 athletes during a single weekend. Looking at the entire Twin Cities capabilities, which includes the sports hub, the Pacific Athletic Center and every school’s indoor basketball court, the area could host 176 basketball teams in a single week.
“When we have a tournament that comes into town that lasts two or three days, most people are too far away to drive home each night,” Averill said. “We fill up our hotel rooms and they have to eat, so they’re visiting our restaurants. They also shop and learn we have the factory outlets close to the sports hub. Sales tax-wise alone, it’s a big boom to the community.”
Centralia often doesn’t have enough hotel room capacity to accommodate all the people who attend the larger tournaments here, Averill said, so they often end up booking rooms in Chehalis, the Great Wolf Lodge and surrounding areas, creating an even greater financial benefit to the area.
The expansion brings the hub’s basketball court capacity to 12, two more than The Podium will hold. The added space will also allow the hub to host two seperate tournaments at the same time, such as wrestling and basketball tourneys simultaneously.
“We are really getting on the map when it comes to putting on amateur events,” Pullin said. “We are constantly getting people who are wanting dates that we can’t fill right now. As our quality gets better, this is going to have the wow effect for the Northwest when it comes to Centralia.”
The total project, which is funded in part by a grant from TransAlta, will cost $1.3 million. The manufactured building will run $345,114; the concrete, $403,477; the building erection, $321,029; and the flooring, $271,702.
The NW Sports Hub is currently closed due to state guidelines, but Pullin said it will open back up once allowed to by the state, even during construction of the expansion.
“We will try to manage around the construction to bring in tournaments through other corridors, even though we’re building our new addition,” Pullin said. “It’s going in the right direction, unfortunately we all have been confronted by this virus. We’re arming up and preparing for when this is over with and we’ll be ready to go.”
Construction on the building expansion is set to begin Dec. 24, with a June 1, 2021 target date for completion. The flooring and interior construction is aimed to be finished by Aug. 1, 2021.