Although it has taken a while to find its stride, the Southridge area now has a handful of bustling businesses, and there is plenty of room for more.
The new sports complex that Kennewick recently opened for business is sure to be a boon for the area's economic development.
The new $3.2 million pavilion will provide practice space for sports year-round, saving players from the blustery winds we so often face this time of year. Soccer, pickleball and basketball can all be played inside the 30,000-square-foot pavilion.
If you're wondering why so much has been invested in fun and games, take a look at the numbers. In 2011, the Tri-Cities Visitor and Convention Bureau helped book about 130 sports tournaments and conventions, bringing about $32 million to the local economy.
But the new facility is not just about sports. It was designed with flexibility in mind and can be used for special events from trade shows to weddings. And it has air-conditioning, which is right up there with wind buffers on the list of must-haves for Tri-City venues.
Five city employees have offices at the sports pavilion, and there is a meeting room for small groups. The lobby has space for food concessions.
Contractors are always full of helpful but usually costly suggestions. But in the case of the sports complex, the contractor did the city a favor by convincing leaders to change the plans mid-stride.
The original designs called for a metal-ribbed structure with a canvas tent cover. The contractor told the city he could build a metal building for the same price and make it 35 percent bigger.
And it was a savvy move, giving the city more to work with and market year-round. The city received money from the state's Local Revitalization Funding Program to pay for the pavilion. Through the program, the city will get an advance on future tax revenues expected in the Southridge area.
The grand opening of the complex is 5 p.m. to 8 p.m. March 22, but that hasn't stopped folks from coming in to check it out. Hours are 9 a.m. to 9 p.m. Monday through Saturday and noon to 5 p.m. Sundays.
While the city's motivation no doubt includes revenue generated from special events and sports tournaments, they kept area residents in mind when setting the fee structure. For $2, an individual can rent a basketball court for an hour. A team can rent a court for $39 an hour.
The pavilion is the final piece of the Southridge Sports and Events Complex, which includes four softball fields, soccer fields and open spaces on 42 acres at Southridge Boulevard and Hildebrand Boulevard.
The pavilion is a great addition, providing the first indoor practice facility meant for field sports in the city.
And it will make Southridge a more attractive area for all kinds of events.