Columbia Youth Basketball Association plans multi-purpose complex

The association hopes to team up with the Parks and Recreation Department to raise money for the proposed $6 million facility.

The Columbia Youth Basketball Association met with a representative of Columbia Parks and Recreation on Monday to start planning a multi-purpose complex for the city’s youth.

The complex is part of an effort to boost participation in the association’s leagues.

“The one thing (the city of Columbia is) lacking is a centralized area to bring in sports in general,” Columbia Youth Basketball Association President Allen Jennings said.

During the meeting, Columbia Youth Basketball Association confirmed it was no longer actively pursuing financing the construction of a large recreational complex for Columbia’s active youth. Instead, the association has entreated the Parks and Recreation Department to include a building of this type in its 10-year comprehensive plan, the Open Space Master Plan.

“The process is to gain public input regarding what priority needs are for parks, and then we gather all that information and present it to City Council, who has the final say based on city resources,” Park Education Specialist Janet Godon said.

Jennning said he envision the building the association having eight courts, among other amenities. The estimated cost of this facility would be around $6 million, he said.

The association has exhausted other possibilities for larger recreation areas for youth basketball on the MU campus, Columbia Youth Basketball Association board member Christine King said.

“I get that MU needs to make money, but it just seems like they don’t support the community,” King said. “We have to pay an arm and a leg to use their facilities. If we had their support we wouldn’t necessarily need a new building.”

A multi-purpose recreational complex might even generate additional revenue for the city through tournaments and special sporting events, Columbia Youth Basketball Association board member Carrie Copeland said.

“The city of Columbia is missing an opportunity to bring in money for the community,” Copeland said. “When the city hosts sporting events, that brings in money to the restaurants, the hotels and even the Walmart.”

In the meantime, the youth basketball leagues will continue to utilize the schools for their athletic needs with the hopes of bigger and better facilities to come, Jennings said.

“If you build it, they will come,” he said.

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