VIRGINIA BEACH, VA. — When DLH Sports opens its 230,000-square-foot DLH Sports Complex in September in Virginia Beach, it will mark the completion of a 5-year process. Long before the recession started affecting the lending markets and real estate projects across the country slowed to a crawl, officials were still straining to push the $18 million development forward. The reason? Location. Developers chose a perfect site situated near the 400-acre Airport Industrial Park, but the land had been previously used as a borrow pit. “That’s where they dig a big hole and borrow the soil to build roads,” says Robert Ruhl of the Virginia Beach Department of Economic Development. A decade ago, the gaping hole was filled with construction debris. “You had some stuff down there that probably wasn’t the most environmentally clean.”

Plans for the complex were eventually pushed through, and DLH broke ground on the facility 8 months ago. Inside the property, two $1 million turf fields, two swimming pools and weight rooms for professional and amateur athletes will bring a diverse mix of sports players to the property. “There’ll be multi-level professional training going on along with non-professional athletes,” Ruhl says. He hints that the new complex means that major sporting events, such as Olympic trials and NCAA tournaments, have a new venue in Virginia Beach. Additionally, the property will serve as the anchor for an initiative to bring a mix of property types to the immediate area. Most important, however, the new development may bring in out-of-state visitors.

“We love tourists in Virginia Beach,” Ruhl says. “They come, they spend their money and then they leave. They don’t use a lot of those city services that a year-round resident would demand, so that pumps a lot into our economy and into our tax coffers on an annual basis.”

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