Our former State Senator and County Commissioner, Orphy Klempa, jokes that you couldn’t buy a decent pair of underwear in Ohio County before the Commission undertook The Highlands Retail Development. It is a statement that’s mostly true, and it always brings a few laughs from the crowd.
The joke’s point is that our region had suffered economic hardship for an exhaustingly long time and that our County Commission had made a critical financial investment on the hilltop. Landing Cabela’s and their shipping warehouse made The Highlands a magnet for development that has led to a variety of retailers, restaurants, and movie theaters to locate to Ohio County.
All of that investment and hard work have led to this moment, the opening of a crown jewel facility, the Highlands Sports Complex. The Complex brings a new element to The Highlands, which provides sports and fitness opportunities for vacation travelers looking for fun activities, destination sports tournament travelers, and our local community.
The facility has softly and safely opened in recent months hosting local high school sporting events and training camps. However, it will begin to operate at a greater capacity in the coming weeks and has tournaments booked solid from February through June of 2021.
“The location of the facility is better than people thought when they first imagined it. When you begin looking around on a map, there is nothing, and I genuinely mean nothing like this place within a three-to-four hours drive,” says Jason Troop, Director of Business Development.
Troop relocated with his family from St. Louis for The Highlands Job, and he is excited about the Complex’s potential. This Complex is the first Well Certified Sports Complex in the World, which means that through its design, it inspires those who use the space to think and act consciously about their health while using the facility.
Technology commands the entire facility, from its HVAC systems to the configuration of playing fields. The touch of an iPad operates the six-court fieldhouse gymnasium. According to Troop, it can be reconfigured entirely from a basketball arrangement to a volleyball arrangement in less than five minutes. Artificial intelligence will also help monitor the facility’s attendance, continually adjusting the HVAC to meet the spectators’ expectations as they flow in and out of rooms and the facility.
In addition to basketball and volleyball, the Complex offers an 88,000 square foot indoor training field that Troop boasts is “more extensive than what the Pittsburgh Steelers practice on during training camp. The indoor field can be divided up via netting into multiple smaller practice fields, again using digital technology. There are also batting cages available.
A full-length outdoor football field, which is adequate for soccer and lacrosse, completes the facilities amenities and will eventually have sufficient seating capacity to host various outdoor events.
A gaming arcade, full-service concessions, and an extensive climbing room compliment the Complex’s family gaming experience. This climbing room takes the idea of a static climbing wall to a new level with multiple climbing walls and pylons, and each requires differing maneuvers and challenges. It will be excellent for both families and team-building retreats.
Troop says the climbing and arcade rooms will be walk-in for the general public during regular operating hours. In the future, the Complex will offer short-term drop off childcare services, allowing parents to enjoy The Highlands amenities for a childfree “date night” if they choose.
While the Complex is open to the public and currently booking tournaments, there is still more to be added in the coming months. Troops says that he anticipates a 24/7 fitness center constructed in the next twelve months, a children’s splash pad, and a zip line. He looks forward to booking birthday parties, corporate retreats, sporting tournaments, and sports training camps and clinics.
He leaves the door open to other ideas the public may have on creatively using the space, “Our goal is to see the Highlands Sports Complex grow into a year-round non-stop hive of activity for the community, says Troop.”
For more information and bookings, visit https://www.highlandssports.com.
Jason Troop can be reached directly at 304-238-9653