YOUNGSVILLE — Tim Robichaux entered the brand new Recreation Center at the Youngsville Sports Complex on Saturday and heard what he’s wanted to hear for the past few years: young people having fun.
“It was so good to walk into here and hear the balls bouncing,” said Robichaux, the director of Youngsville Parks and Recreation Department who runs the Sports Complex. Robichaux was among those on hand to officially open the $4.2 million Recreation Center in between sporting events.
On Saturday morning, high school all star boys competing in an AAU basketball tournament were in heated play. On the other side of the center’s gym, separated by a mechanized roll-down screen, young girls took part in a volley ball camp.
“Walking into this facility this morning gave me goose bumps,” Mayor Ken Ritter told a crowd of about 100. “There were many hurdles” in opening the center, including delays building the parking lot.
The hurdles included tons of rain and scraping up the money to get it built. The cash-strapped state couldn’t deliver the last portion of capital outlay funds so the City Council decided to dip into the city’s bank account for $800,000 needed to build the parking lot.
But before the current budget crisis, Louisiana contributed much to the cost of the entire complex, which topped $25 million when upgrades to the surrounding roads are factored in.
The center is located on the west end of the Sports Complex, which opened in May 2014 and is bounded by Chemin Metairie Parkway, Savoy Road and Detente Road. Without the road upgrades, the cost of the complex and the center comes to just under $20 million.
Officially named the Youngsville Sports Complex Recreation Center, it’s been part of the city’s plans for years, originating during the tenure of former Mayor Wilson Viator, who served for three terms before Ritter.
Viator attended the opening Saturday. And he planned to be there later on Saturday afternoon as well, when league play and a Senior Olympics tournament for pickle ball players kicks off. Viator is an avid pickle baller, a sport for the community’s aging residents.
He said Youngsville’s senior pickle ball crowd will now compete with the big teams coming from Lafayette and New Iberia.
The area’s older crowd, those 55 and above, also are invited to a no-cost fitness program to start in mid-May, Youngsville Councilwoman Dianne McClelland said.
While there are programs for older residents, the center, along with the rest of the complex, was built with the area’s young people in mind, Viator said.
Mayor Ritter said the kids will have a place where they’ll experience “the beginning of memories” that will stay with them through the years they’re raising their own children.
The center has 26,000 square feet indoors, two full-sized basketball courts that are used for volleyball and pickle ball, which require smaller areas. It has the screened dividers that roll down from the ceiling and can either split the court in half or section it off in quarters.
Outside, there’s room for 166 vehicles to park. When combined with the entire sports complex brings, it brings the parking capacity to over 1,000.
The complex impressed visitors on Saturday.
Wanda LeBlanc brought her four children from the family’s house in LeTriomphe in Broussard. Her two oldest, Emma, 8, and Gracie, 10, took part in the volleyball camp.
“This place is amazing,” LeBlanc said. “We’ll be back.”