News Flash

* Hampton City News

Posted on: July 14, 2021

Celebration of Hampton Aquaplex draws crowd, news of 1st national meet

Aquaplex Groundbreaking-1

July 24, 2021 - Hampton business leaders, civic leaders, city leaders, and young swimmers turned out Wednesday morning to celebrate the city's aquatics center, which is slated to open late next summer. 

And they aren't the only groups excited about the new community/competition facility. Mayor Donnie Tuck announced that USA Artistic Swimming has selected the Hampton Virginia Aquaplex to host its Junior Olympic Championship in 2023. The national competition (which used to be known as synchronized swimming) is expected to draw more than 1,100 athletes — and their families — to Hampton for eight days. 

Speakers described the state-of-the-art facility and what it will offer for a variety of users. Convention and Visitors Bureau DirectoreMary Fugere noted that the facility will draw out-of-town competitions. People who come to Hampton for sports tend to spend close to $1,000 per trip and stay more than three nights. That translates into direct revenue for the city in taxes but also provides an injection into the economy. The center is located on Coliseum Drive across from the Hampton Coliseum, in the heart of the city's hotel and retail core.

City Manager Mary Bunting noted that the city had promised residents a new indoor pool when the aging Olde Hampton Community Center and pool were demolished. About the same time, the city was looking into expanding its niche in youth sports, already prominent with basketball (Boo Williams Sportsplex), volleyball, indoor track, and cheerleading. 

With the dual-use idea came a creative dual-funding concept: Taxpayers would repay the bonds for the cost of a community pool, and a new hotel fee would fund the extra amount to build out the larger competition pool, with seating for 1,500 spectators and separate competitor seating.

Kecoughtan swim coach Joey Stickle focused on the impact on high school swimmers, who don't have a "home pool"  currently. Both swimming and diving teams on the high school and club level practice in facilities that have conditions that don't offer the same conditions as they face in tournaments.  Young swimmers from the Riverdale neighborhood team came to the groundbreaking after daily practice to show their excitement for the facility. 

In the end, Mayor Tuck reminded residents that the Aquaplex is their pool for adult fitness and classes, for water therapy that includes access for people who use wheelchairs, and for special events like birthday parties and "dive-in movies." The larger space will allow the city to partner with Hampton City Schools to make learning to swim a core part of elementary school physical education. Learning to swim will allow all residents to safely enjoy Hampton's waterfront and water recreation.

The aquatic center will also offer an outside component that's just for fun: a waterpark (named Splashdown Park for the city's NASA center's missions) with waterslides, spray areas, and a lazy river. The Hampton Virginia Aquaplex, said Parks and Recreation Director Dave McCauley, "will make Hampton an even better place to live, work and play and now swim and splash!"


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