_City News

Posted on: August 25, 2017

City to consider purchasing Boo Williams Sportsplex to keep sports tourism activity

Sposrtsplex photo

Aug. 25, 2017 – The Boo Williams Sportsplex has always been a public-private venture. The Hampton Economic Development Authority owns the land the building sits on, and a group of investors contributed the $11 million to construct the building.

The city gets economic activity, as well as taxes, from visitors who come from around the country to attend AAU tournaments on weekends. A study commissioned by the facility shows that Hampton’s economy has seen benefits – more than $9 million a year in direct spending.

The facility breaks even; however, with their 10-year commitment expiring, the partners want to sell. The city has an interest in keeping the facility in operation.

Here’s the proposal under consideration: The Economic Development Authority would buy the building for the assessed value of $9.2 million. Boo Williams would agree to run the operation and pay rent for the 15-year life of the bonds. Rent payments, plus the amount of the facility’s annual tourism grant and usage fees, are expected to cover the payments without any new city funds.

The issue will come before Hampton City Council on Sept. 13, when the city considers a bond anticipation note. That would allow short-term financing until the city can issue bonds for this project and others in the capital plan. If council approves the financing, and other elements of the agreement are finalized, the Economic Development Authority likely would vote at its meeting the following week on the purchase. (The bond note won’t be issued unless the sale is approved.)

Some of the other details from Boo Williams Sportsplex’ economic impact report:

  • $9.3 million a year in direct spending and $3.8 million in indirect spending, which support 191 jobs.
  • 25,600 hotel nights booked each year, with average stays of five days.
  • Players often travel with family members; the average household travel group is 3.6 people.
  • Each person spends an average of $74 per person per day, not counting hotel.

There are also community benefits. Williams runs a non-profit youth summer league, the eight basketball courts and indoor track are used by Hampton schools, and the track is open for indoor walkers from the community.

Any deal would be dependent on Williams committing to stay for the 15-year term. He is nationally recognized for his commitment to youth basketball and was inducted into the Basketball Hall of Fame as the 2013 winner of the Human Spirit Award.

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