HAMPTON, Va. (WAVY) – Officials in the city of Hampton are weighing whether to purchase the Boo Williams Sportsplex, a recreational facility that’s operated within the city for nearly a decade.
“It is a very important economic and tourism generator for the city,” said Hampton spokeswoman Robin McCormick.
Since 2008, the facility has hosted camps, AAU tournaments and other recreation for visiting athletes and locals.
A study revealed that the complex rakes in more than $9 million for the city in tourism spending and taxes, annually, McCormick said.
But now, the group of investors who own the building are looking to sell. And the city could be the buyer.
“It’s something we certainly have to consider and take a look at,” McCormick said.
Located on city-owned property off of North Armistead Avenue, the facility launched as a public-private venture. According to its website, the sportsplex is the largest between Washington D.C. and Greensboro, North Carolina.
Prominent athlete Boo Williams is at the helm, active in recruiting high school athletes to play at the complex.
“Boo is a huge asset,” McCormick said. “He is nationally know, he has brought these tournaments now for 10 years. We have college scouts from NCAA top schools who come here to recruit.”
The city’s proposal to purchase the facility, assessed at $9.2 million, would essentially lease it to Williams.
He would run the operation and pay rent for 15 years. City officials say, between those payments and yearly tourism and usage fees, the city wouldn’t need to use new funds to make the purchase.
When the building was constructed, investors contributed $11 million and the facility has broken even, officials said.
10 On Your Side asked Hampton residents how they felt about the city’s proposal.
Two women we spoke with are in favor of the deal, under the condition that the facility doesn’t change.
Sylvia Bailey said she wants to see “the same thing that Boo Williams is doing.”
“As long as it still does the same thing… promotes the same atmosphere and the same vibe, I would love that place to stay there,” said Tosha Hayspell, who lives near the facility.
10 On Your Side reached Williams over the phone on Friday. He stated that nothing would change other than the ownership.
He added he believes it’s a “great deal for the city.”
Council plans to take the issue up on September 13. Members would need to approve a financing plan. The Economic Development Authority would then vote on the purchase a week later.
“Hopefully it goes through!” Hayspell said.