SPRINGDALE — Members of the City Council toured Springdale’s new recreation center on Wednesday. It marked the first visit for some members since the city purchased the 120,000-square-foot building for $4 million in late 2018.
The money to buy the former All-Star Sports Arena came from the $19 million bond money for parks approved by voters in February 2018.
“When we bought it, we knew we were going to have to spend some money,” said council member Mike Lawson. “We knew we inherited an eyesore that had issues. But to give this back to the citizens and kids is just remarkable.”
Renovations have totaled about $1 million, which included a heating and air conditioning system, a roof, lighting and turf for the indoor soccer field.
Chad Wolf, director of the city’s Parks and Recreation Department, said an open walking track hanging above the ball courts was structurally unsound. And the entire interior of the building was painted.
Employees of the city’s Parks Department are putting the finishing touches on the department’s administrative offices, but staff has been working there about three weeks. Staci Mains, the administrative assistant for the department, has had time to cover her office with paraphernalia touting her favorite sports teams.
The city saved about $500,000 on the office area when Wolf put his own staff to work framing and laying tile, rather than hiring contractors. Employees had time for the work because tournaments and local team play were canceled when the Arkansas Department of Health limited large public gatherings, Wolf said.
Phased openings for community and school sports began Aug. 21, according to the Health Department’s website.
Wolf said the shut down also allowed renovation to continue without inconveniencing the public by closing the center.
Lawson said he the six courts for league and tournament volleyball and basketball awed him.
“They look professional and classy. It’s such a nice, clean look. They’re going to be able to play a lot of volleyball and basketball there,” he said. “We’ve certainly come a long way from my days working and playing at the Springdale Youth Center in the 1980s,” he said. “We started with tile floors, which were slippery. And we only had one court.”
That youth center in Murphy Park was sold to the Springdale School District when the city bought All-Star.
Wolf said the new center should see about 200 people a day — or 500 to 700 if a tournament is played.
But only about 50 people a day — mostly senior citizens using the center’s weight training area and walking — have been using the place.
“But we’re going to start playing volleyball next week,” Wolf said. “And, when things open back up, we’re going to have adult soccer indoors. We’re going to offer rugby and lacrosse. We’re ready to do anything.”
Wolf listed renovation projects down the road, including an elevator, locker and shower rooms and courts for the center’s members to play basketball, volleyball and pickleball while tournaments run on the other