Sports facility 'fields' impact of COVID-19

Posted at 4:45 PM, May 21, 2020
and last updated 2020-05-22 07:14:02-04

VIRGINIA BEACH, Va. - Bryan Schmidt, general manager of the Virginia Beach Field House, has empty courts and empty fields - but not an empty wrist.

"It's the little things that are going to make the impact," Schmidt told News 3 Sports Director Adam Winkler Thursday.

Schmidt wears a friendship bracelet gifted to him three weeks ago by a seven year-old named Kinley.

"She talked at length about all the friends that she's missing," Schmidt explained about the young girl who attends childcare at the Field House. "Creating a wristband like this and giving it away is an experience she hasn't been able to do."

Because as we navigate the COVID-19 pandemic, children - for the most part - are not able to gather. That's certainly the case at the 175,000 square foot Field House operated by Eastern Sports Management.

"The Field House is really built for the community," noted Andy Ballard, vice president of Eastern Sports Management.

"We need to bring in a bout $300,000 a month," Ballard said. "So there's your number: take the amount of time we've been closed, and it's about a million dollars."

And when the Field House does open back up for league play with limited spectators, which will not be until Phase 3 of Governor Northam's phased approach to reopen the Commonwealth, it will abide by CDC and state guidelines.

"You almost have this really unique opportunity for almost a mini-relaunch," Schmidt, who began his role as GM three weeks ago, pointed out. "It will look a little different, and it will feel a little different."

With sports still 'riding the bench' at the Virginia Beach Field House, the staff is looking forward to the relaunch of this facility. But, only 11 miles away, Eastern Sports Management is looking forward to the launch of the brand new Virginia Beach Sports Center - set to open in November.

The 285,000 square foot facility located less than a mile from the Oceanfront will feature 36 courts (24 volleyball, 12 basketball) and an NCAA-sanctioned track. Andy Ballard says the venue is already in high-demand for events.

"This is the marquee facility in the region," Ballard said. "This will differentiate us. And what you're going to see is people want to get back and want to do it in a safe way and want to be cautious, so we're going to make sure that happens."

Because it's the little things that pave the way for the big things.