Company pitches WB field house

Published 9:51 pm Friday, June 2, 2017

A new athletic complex for the Western Branch community has been discussed for more than a year, and a recent proposal has brought this idea one step closer to reality.

The city of Chesapeake received an unsolicited proposal from Eastern Sports Management for the construction of an indoor recreation facility, according to a May 25 memorandum by city manager James Baker.

ESM’s proposed facility would encompass 120,000 square feet, with artificial turf and hard-court spaces, and also fitness and training areas. The facility would be located on an approximately seven-acre site of the Jolliff Landing development that was recently offered to the city by Jolliff Landing Developers.

Email newsletter signup

According to the memorandum, ESM could complete construction of the facility within 20 months acquiring the property.

“This is just the very first step of the process,” Baker said.

According to the Public-Private Education and Infrastructure Act of 2002, if a municipality accepts an unsolicited proposal for further evaluation, it must post an official notice of the proposal and then open the process to other competing proposals for evaluation, public communications coordinator Karen Meyers said.

The city manager’s office is expected to announce the notice to accept or reject the proposal on Monday.

A committee was formed with members from the procurement staff, parks and recreation and other technical experts to evaluate the proposal and determine an appropriate time frame for other interested parties to submit their respective ideas.

“We have to select an appropriate time frame to give them to respond,” Baker said.

In April 2016, City Council directed Baker to develop a request for proposals for building, maintaining and operating a field house.

Supporters of building a field house in the Chesapeake Square Mall vicinity cite the success of the Virginia Beach Field House, which ESM also operates. That facility was considered an economic boon for its area, and many believe a similar facility in the Western Branch area would have a similar effect.

“It may not draw as many people, it may not be as a big and it may not have the same amenities as the one in Virginia Beach, but you hope that it has the same catalytic effect,” Baker said.

The project would provide a year-round facility for youth and adult sports teams in Western Branch, and for family-oriented activities and community events. The idea is that this could reenergize the struggling businesses in the Chesapeake Square Mall shopping area.

“It ignites the economy in the area,” Davis said. “That’s what it’s done in Virginia Beach, and that’s our hope for Western Branch.”