Sports complex opening hits snags

The Chronicle (Centralia)April 7, 2014 

They don’t have the keys to the building just yet, but the administrators of the new Northwest Sports Hub building at the Lewis County Event Center and Sports Complex are eagerly awaiting that day.

The 76,500-square-foot building at 701 Pioneer Way in Centralia continues to take shape as the calendar moves closer to the first major use of the facility. The Northwest Sports Hub is designed to be used by a variety of sports teams for tournaments and events, and can also be scheduled for concerts and other large-scale events.

Construction crews began work in January 2013, with the original goal for the Lewis County Public Facilities District to hand the keys over to Northwest Sports Hub LLC by late February of this year. That date has since been moved to April 15, as several modifications to the building had to be made, one of which was to comply with the Americans with Disabilities Act.

Lewis County Public Facilities Manager Todd Chaput said the modifications weren’t much of a setback. He said the county still hopes to hand over the keys in two weeks.

“It’s nothing unusual, but as you do a timeline over the course of a few months, one little hiccup can push the project back,” Chaput said. “I would much rather us make the corrections now and get them done.”

Northwest Sports Hub project development manager Jenni Bodnar said a large wrestling tournament was pushed back by the facility’s delayed opening. However, she said, the staff who will oversee the facility’s rental and subsequent use continue to concentrate on booking available space with a mix of tournaments and large events, as well as locally based sports leagues.

“We’re not really having any heartache over that,” Bodnar said. “We realize it’s important to get a project like this done correctly and completely.”

Much work remains to be done, including installation of the hardwood courts and an elevator between ground level and the mezzanine.

Funding for future projects will shift from the county to Northwest Sports Hub LLC once the keys are handed over.

“That’s when the LLC will begin doing some tenant improvements such as adding netting, finishing the walls, etc.,” Chaput said. “The majority of the building will be complete.”

Chaput added that the building will be available for events over the summer, but all parties involved in the partnership that brought the sports complex idea to life are trying to plan an official grand opening for late August.

Bodnar says she hopes the facility can host 26 tournaments or large events over a 12-month timespan — about one every two weeks — not only bringing people to the sports complex, but showcasing the Hub City and the area as a whole.

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