Youngsters in Pima County soon will have access to an exciting, new activity space for indoor sports, thanks to a collaborative effort between Pima County and other community partners.
The state-of-the-art, 40,000-square-foot Southern Arizona Indoor Sports Center will accommodate up to five basketball courts and eight volleyball courts, helping to provide much-needed space for organized team and individual sports activities for young people.
The center, at La Cholla Boulevard and River Road, will be open to youth across the county, but will have an immediate impact on the Flowing Wells area, where 67 percent of district schoolchildren qualify for free or reduced lunch.
Building upon Pima County’s ongoing support of initiatives that encourage healthy lifestyle choices and provide greater access to community health resources, the project is also strategically located adjacent to The Loop, which will allow expanded opportunities for youth to access the facility.
The project is an example of an innovative private-public partnership, with roots in a 2008 decision by the Pima County Board of Supervisors to jointly develop, construct and operate an indoor sporting facility.
While the county will build and maintain the facility, the nonprofit Southern Arizona Community Sports Inc. will staff and manage it, and will contribute at least $1 million from the private sector to supplement the county’s participation. A construction contract of $4.1 million is on the board’s Aug. 20 agenda.
Over the course of 10 years, the county’s responsibility for operating and maintaining the facility will ratchet down, with the goal that the facility will be self-sustaining by year 11. The county has successfully entered into public-private partnerships with non-profit agencies in the past, including with the Arizona-Sonora Desert Museum and the Pima Air & Space Museum.
Courts will be made available at low cost, with priority given to organized programs such as youth league play and tournaments or to schools and other community organizations that need indoor space for wellness activities.
“As we navigate these challenging economic times, it’s becoming increasingly clear that these private-public partnerships help expand on what any one entity can provide to the community,” said Pima County Supervisor Sharon Bronson, who represents the area.
“This facility will provide an opportunity for the youth in our community to live healthy, active lifestyles. Participating in team sports helps develop a host of important character traits, from cooperation to persistence. And the reality is, it’s an amenity that could draw more residents to the area, while making sports available to kids who otherwise may not have been able to participate.”
Construction could begin by the early fall.