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Commission approves fieldhouse, project aims to attract tournaments

Plans to build a proposed Columbia Sports Fieldhouse moved forward Thursday night.

Columbia Parks and Recreation hopes to break ground sometime in November on the indoor facility by A.Perry Philips Park in South Columbia. The $3.7 million project is expected to be finished by October 2018.

“This is one thing the city has been missing for many, many years,” said Columbia Youth Basketball Association President Allen Jennings. “This will open it up and allow a lot of our leagues to actually get to practice more, to play at different times.

The facility would include four indoor courts for basketball, volleyball and pickleball tournaments, said Gabe Huffington, Parks services manager at Columbia Parks and Rec. Right now, the city owns two courts at the ARC and another at the Armory.

“Right now we are missing out on some big tournaments, whether it be volleyball, basketball or another sport that may go to Kansas City or St. Louis,” Huffington said.

A majority of the project would be funded by the 2015 park sales tax. Huffington said an additional $1 million would come from Columbia’s Convention and Visitor’s Bureau.

“We are going to have a sports tourism staff member at this building,” he said. “So on an annual basis, we’re going to be looking to pull in some major tournaments to bring people to Columbia that maybe don’t normally visit Columbia.”

Proposed designs for the sports field house will allow for expansion, if needed.

The facility would also include nearly 200 parking spaces, soccer fields and tennis courts. It will also include office space for staff, a concession stand and seating.

It would open from 3 to 11 p.m. Sunday through Friday. Those hours could change based on league schedules or reservations.

The field house would require a usage fee. City council members would review the cost and approve it on yearly basis.

The project still needs to be approved by the city council.

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