Serving Barnwell County and it's neighbors since 1852

Letter to the Editor - Resident thinks county should revisit topic of multi-purpose area


Dear Editor,

As a parent new to the world of club sports, I truly believe the idea of the multi-purpose arena in Barnwell County may be worth revisiting - with some modifications or additions.

Maybe the previous idea didn’t get much “buy-in” from the community because of the scope. It seemed to focus on horse-related stuff such as riding rings and stalls.

I believe an indoor sports facility may be more fitting. Our community is very involved in youth sports. Currently, we only have our school gyms as indoor sports facilities.

We traveled this past weekend to a sports center in Rock Hill that hosted club volleyball tournaments for a multitude of teams the entire weekend and will be hosting more tournaments each weekend until April. In total, the tournament ended up using this facility and two more nearby to house the three-day tournament. In addition, another volleyball tournament (that I knew of) was being held in Charleston, so I can only imagine what I missed out on there. In Rock Hill the paid parking garage was packed, hotels were packed, restaurants and concession stands were busy, as were local stores with folks buying sports equipment, food items, clothes and souvenirs.

Money was flowing into that community!

The nearest indoor sports facility that I found to Barnwell is an hour away and built back in the late 1990s. If we could get a piece of the indoor sports pie, I think it would be a great boost to the local economy.

The thought of having a facility that could be used for multiple indoor sports including basketball, volleyball, racquetball, pickleball, indoor walking track, climbing walls and so forth is exciting. It could host youth programs and summer camps and spur the birth of local volleyball clubs, host basketball teams such as Carolina Shockers and so forth. This could give our county an indoor location for high school graduation ceremonies, indoor festivals, expos, concerts such as Warren Peay, activities such as SummerSalt that so many of our youths attend and so much more. The scope could even retain the original idea of RV parking and maybe expand to include some camping cabins or something.

With the participation that I see in our community involving youth sports, I believe this would be a great economic opportunity for our area. Lodging, restaurants, local retail stores, gas stations and even our businesses that make T-shirts (souvenirs) and such. Plus, there is the indoor concession sales and potential for food trucks outside the facility.

The facility that we were at this weekend was a 170,000 sq. ft. facility that hosts athletic leagues, sports tournaments, conferences/conventions, concerts and other special events all year long.

Here are some specs:

• Championship Court: 12,500 sq. ft. with 1,200 stadium seats; 1 center court or 2 side courts (basketball & volleyball)

• Main Court: 72,000 sq. ft. with 700 courtside permanent seats; 8 basketball courts / 16 volleyball courts

• Multi-Purpose Room (Team Room): 8,000 sq. ft. event space accommodating 350 guests seated at round tables

• Walking Track: Just under 1/4 mi. surrounds the main court

• Multiple Concession Stands, Locker Rooms, State-of-the-Art Courts and Equipment

Their parks, recreation and tourism department’s success in recruiting and hosting tournaments has established sports tourism as an economic engine for their region.

I will personally reach out to the Barnwell County Recreation Committee and see if this is something we can do.


Melissa Roberts,