Last week at the Virginia Municipal League annual conference in Roanoke, Parks and Recreation Director Brad Epperley and Aquatics Director Terry Caldwell spoke to elected officials and local government staff from across the state about sports tourism and the efforts the town of Christiansburg has made to attract athletes and their families to our community.

They talked about the economic impact sports and recreation have on the quality of life and the town’s revenue.

Caldwell stated that the Christiansburg Aquatic Center has hosted the ACC Swimming and Diving Championship, NCAA zone dive meets and numerous collegiate, club and high school swim meets. Many of the meets bring more than 1,000 swimmers to town, along with their parents and family members. Last year, a total of more than 10,500 athletes and 20,000 spectators from 13 states competed at the Aquatic Center. These meets produced an estimated $4.5 million economic impact for our area.

Caldwell also felt that the Aquatic Center had a tremendous impact on the Christiansburg community by offering swim lessons, a newly formed middle school swim league, facilities for senior citizens, and a place for kids and adults to go to have fun and relax.

Epperley spoke about the Harkrader Sports Complex, which has hosted many national events, including the Dixie Boys World Series, the USSA Baseball World Series and the Nations Eastern World Series. The Harkrader Sports Complex hosts tournament from April to October, and during the past year more than 11,000 players and 44,000 spectators came to the complex, booking 2,319 hotel rooms and eating meals at Christiansburg restaurants during their stay.

Epperley stated that Christiansburg has established itself as a destination for swim meets and baseball tournaments, and the town now has plans to develop a major park near the New River Valley Mall. The park will include artificially surfaced rectangular fields for soccer, lacrosse and football tournaments.

With the addition of the new park, Christiansburg will be able to host tournaments for numerous sports.

The message the town is giving to people around the South is, “Y’all come on down.”

STEVE HUPPERT

Christiansburg Town Council member

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