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Event Center adds to schedule

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BY PATRICK MASON
Staff Writer

Monday, July 2, 2018

The Rocky Mount Event Center, with a grand opening set for Nov. 4, promises to bring new business by acquiring new activities and events to the area.

Sporting events will be a big driver of this plan, and securing tournaments, highly-attended high school rivalry basketball games and prominent performers like the Harlem Globetrotters — who will headline the grand opening — will be key as the city transitions into life with a state-of-the-art facility.  

The Event Center will be the home to a number of sporting events from around the area, as well as larger state-wide and regional tournaments. A big get that organizers are proud of is convincing the NTBA — National Travel Basketball Association — to play its title games in Rocky Mount. The NTBA will host its state championships at the event center in 2019.

The South Carolina-based league traditionally plays its championships in Charlotte and Myrtle Beach but has chosen Rocky Mount as its home moving forward. This is a landmark event, and will help kick start the sports culture at the Event Center. Currently, the girls championship was held in Myrtle Beach this past weekend, with the boys championship set for the following weekend.

But next year, those teams will descend on Rocky Mount. By then, the city hopes that a few new business, eateries and hangouts will have popped up.

John McDonald, regional executive for Sports Facilities Management, a company that helps plan and guide the infancy phases of centers like this, said in May that the Event Center has received 47 requests for events.

McDonald said he believes that once other tournament directors see that something like the NTBA state championships can play and succeed here, it will be an important step in booking more tournaments like it. And the effects are already being felt. 

“We have three events scheduled and two state championships with the NTBA,” McDonald said. “It’s one of the first dominoes to fall. Most people have never heard of Rocky Mount, but once these events start coming through, word will get out. It’s located just a couple hours from everything you need, and teams from Virginia or D.C. are already used to traveling five-plus hours for tournaments, so this wouldn’t be out of their range.”

Officials with the event center said a full schedule of events won’t be released until August but did offer a broad look at the types of events that will populate the schedule. Basketball tournaments, possibly even portions of the popular high school mainstay, the Nash County Christmas Tournament, will be played here, as well as volleyball tournaments. 

As for other entertainment, concerts and parties, along with large catered events, also are on the docket.

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