Sports tourism: RISE, Truist Park bringing bucks – recognition – into Bermuda Run
Published 10:37 am Tuesday, February 21, 2023
By Jim Buice
BERMUDA RUN – With a population of around 3,000, this town is considered small by most standards, but that doesn’t mean it’s not busy.
Just look at other numbers, which are attributed to a pair of sports complexes – RISE Indoor Sports and Truist Sports Park – that draw participants and guests in their respective locations next door to each other overlooking the Yadkin River.
Of course, RISE is the newcomer, opening in May 2021 and drawing more than a million visitors to the 123,000-square-foot, multi-sports complex in its first 18 months. Lane Newsome, general manager, said that RISE is booked on the weekends this year and has already built a lot of return business.
“We want to be a facility for everybody,” Newsome said. “One of my visions for RISE is for us to be a one-spot stop for athletes.”
RISE has hosted the World Powerlifting Championships, three national cornhole tournaments, three national qualifying volleyball tournaments, three statewide gymnastics meets, six wrestling events, 62 basketball tournaments and 18 volleyball tournaments.
Scott Wollaston, the CEO of the organization that owns and manages Truist Sports Park, goes back to the days of the Twin City Youth Soccer Association in 2005 and recalls “an awesome journey of seeing that being a farmland with an unsightly flag coming into Davie County to that big park as you cross over the Yadkin River. I would say it is a landmark and something that when I talk to people across the region and across the state, they know where Bermuda Run is.”
Now known as NC Fusion, after Twin City Youth Soccer, which was incorporated in 1988, merged with the Greensboro United Soccer Association – combining the two large youth organizations into one – with 7,500 members in all programs.
The complex underwent a huge transformation several years ago with the addition of new artificial turf fields, and more upgrades are in the works thanks to a recent HUD grant.
Newsome and Wollaston were part of a presentation in the January town council meeting to offer updates.
Also serving as the chair of the Bermuda Run Tourism Development Authority, Wollaston can look at the improvements through a different lens.
“In terms of economic development and tourism, we want to see youth sports being the front porch to the community,” Wollaston said. “We attract visitors here every day, and there are not that many people who are residents of Bermuda Run and even Davie County that play in our programs.”
Council member Mike Ernst said that the town has become an even more popular destination.
“If you go out to restaurants on the weekends, they’re always full, and that’s because of Fusion and RISE,” he said. “I’m on this end of the river, and I see these cars turning in at the roundabout constantly, and they’re not coming to see me. They’re bringing their kids because of the activities.”
Mayor Rick Cross agreed that sports tourism is hot, and it also means more discussions about hotels and room nights.
“Over the past couple of months, we’ve had a fair bit of interest from hotel developers sitting back waiting to see what this is all going to mean,” Cross said. “We did some work about five years ago to look at the feasibility of bringing in another hotel, and we were saying all the right things, and it all looked good, but it just hasn’t yet happened yet.
“Now with all that is going on, we’re fortunate to have a seat at the table with you and to do some things that are going to be beneficial to our community. I think with the partnership that we have collectively as a town and you all as huge entities within the town are very important.”
Wollaston said that from a hotel perspective, there have been discussions with those in the economic development area about the fact that the Hampton Inn in Bermuda Run fills up quickly and the leakage of dollars goes into Forsyth County.
“If we’re able to build another hotel, we capture some of those dollars, we capture the tourism dollars, the occupancy tax, a number of things we’ve talked about for a long time,” he said.
In highlights from last Tuesday night’s meeting, the council:
• Unanimously approved text amendments in sections of the Zoning Ordinance regarding the Master Plan Overlay after a public hearing.
• Heard a presentation from John Gallimore, Davie County’s chief technology officer, who provided an overview of the functions, services and responsibilities of the department. He talked about exploring the county’s website and signing up for the services offered, including emergency alerts, which is now even more important with most residents transitioning to cell phones and the need to provide addresses/contact information with the decline of land lines.
• Heard from Cross that four new members have been appointed to the Bermuda Run Planning Board – Leigh Ann Joyce, Dylan Hines, Howard Rush and Sharon Anderson.
• Heard from Town Manager Andrew Meadwell, who made the comment about “needing some dry weather” in reference to such continuing projects as the Blue Heron Trail, the Juniper Pump Station and others.