Bay Co. TDC pitches new $41 million indoor sports center

Panama City Beach

PANAMA CITY BEACH, Fla. (WMBB) — Local tourism leaders are unveiling plans for what will be a major addition to their sports tourism efforts.

The tourism development council is proposing a $41 million dollar indoor sports facility to host a variety of sports like basketball, volleyball, gymnastics, cheerleading and more.

TDC Director Dan Rowe presented the preliminary plans to board members Tuesday morning.

He said it will be a state-of-the-art indoor sports center that the TDC has been planning for years.

The 117,00 square foot space will boast eight basketball and volleyball courts, a commercial kitchen, meeting spaces and the space to be able to hold expos and trade shows.

The building will be constructed right next to Walsingham Academy and across the street from the Panama City Beach Sports Complex.

“It will be able to be used by the school while they’re in session, which is really going to save the taxpayers of Bay County dollars because we’ll have already constructed that gymnasium,” Rowe said.

However, Rowe wants the building to be dual-purpose.

“Hurricane Michael exposed a number of unmet community needs, and so we started working with the emergency management folks on, ‘How do we change our indoor sports center to really function following a storm event?’,” he said.

The facility will serve as an alternate emergency operations center, post-storm shelter and a staging area for first-responders.

It will be built to sustain 200 miles per hour winds.

“We’re still pulling together the funding to be able to construct it,” Rowe said. “We’re in the final stages of receiving FEMA and HUD funding for the hardening of the building and the development of the alternate EOC.”

Rowe also said the TDC plans to invest in the construction, and they will request additional funding from the economic development fund Triumph Gulf Coast.

He said the project will take two years to complete from start to finish, and Bay County commissioners will have to approve the project.

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