Since launching in 2004 as Sports USA, the facility now known as the HUB Sports Center has gone from being a highly touted contender to washed up relic and back again.
Phil Champlin understood he faced an uphill battle when taking over as HUB executive director last November. Champlin’s predecessors had struggled to turn the venue into a viable venture over the years, juggling a variety of challenges from signing on advertisers and sponsors to securing events that would help pay the rent.
The 67,000-square-foot building – with room for five basketball courts and nine volleyball courts – had stood vacant for nearly a year before a group led by Ian Robertson and other representatives of the faith community announced they would bring the site back as the Valley HUB in April 2007.
|The HUB Sports Center in Liberty Lake has seen an increase in event bookings and programs over the past year. HUB officials rallied to keep the facility open after a tenuous period this spring that saw cities like Liberty Lake and Spokane Valley pass on an opportunity to purchase the 67,000-square-foot facility.
Photo by: File photo
In the year that Champlin has served as director, the HUB has attempted to find purchasers for the building, without success. This spring, Champlin and Eric Sawyer, executive director of the Spokane Regional Sports Commission, made their pitch to the Liberty Lake City Council, emphasizing the value of parks and recreation to the quality of life in a community.
“When you look at most public surveys, parks are right up there after public safety and roads as a top community priority,” Sawyer told council members at a July 6 meeting. “It makes sense when you talk about the HUB. Here’s a tremendous facility that benefits the region.”
On the financial side, Champlin described how the HUB had gone from a deficit of around $40,000 in 2009 to a surplus of $11,000 in 2010. He also reinforced the value of the venue to the local economy, relating how events had produced an impact of approximately $1.2 million in 2009.
Ultimately, Liberty Lake officials passed on a purchase of the HUB, but did approve a request by Champlin to utilize $30,000 from the city for day-to-day costs. The City Council had bestowed the money to the HUB in 2008 with the stipulation that the funds be utilized for marketing and promotion.
The funds – plus the fact Champlin had a waiver on rent through the summer – helped stem the tide. What had appeared as a tenous autumn for the HUB turned into a harvest of events and new programs.
“The board realized we could keep it going until at least next summer,” Champlin said.
There is still talk of a capital campaign that could kick off sometime in 2011. Meanwhile, Champlin said the lineup of events – which includes several high school wrestling tournaments, a college volleyball competition and a 3-on-3 basketball tournament scheduled for Dec. 30 – means the facility being able to cover operating costs.
“There’s so much more scheduled that this time last year,” Champlin said.
The weekly agenda has also strengthened the venue’s foundation with classes in Zumba, baseball instruction, boxing and aerobics rounding out the schedule. There has also been talk of adding activities like karate and dodgeball.
While additional advertisers and sponsors have helped with the monthly bills, Champlin admits there are still financial hurdles to be addressed. The HUB did receive $3,500 from the city of Spokane Valley this year and Champlin has applied for another grant through the Liberty Lake lodging tax fund. A letter-writing campaign will appeal to businesses and residents to support the facility on levels from $50 up to $100,000.
“We’re going to need some kind of support each year,” Champlin said.
“Hopefully, people will see this is something that has a positive impact on the community.”
Want to find out more?
To learn more about HUB events, programs and opportunities for financial support, call 927-0602 or visit www.hubsportscenter.org.