VIRGINIA BEACH, Va. (WAVY) — On Tuesday City Council decided to build it, and now they hope people will come to a new $68 million Sports Center at the Oceanfront. 

In a 8-2 vote (John Moss and Jessica Abbott voting against) the council gave the city manager the go-ahead to sign an agreement to construct the project.

Chesapeake based MEB General Contractors will design and build the 285,000 square foot center in the current Convention Center parking lot between 17th and 19th streets at the Oceanfront.

“Taking advantage of the expanding sports segment of the tourism industry in this most expeditious manner will have a dramatic impact on Virginia Beach becoming a year-round destination,” said David Hansen, Virginia Beach’s city manager, in a letter to council last week.

“With hard court space for 12 basketball courts convertible to 24 volleyball courts and floor space that has flexible use for many other activities such as gymnastics, futsal, floor hockey and more, this facility will significantly elevate our sports marketing game.”

An indoor articulated track was also added to the original proposal in order to attract track meets in the winter months, according to Hansen. 

“This venue is a necessity,” said Diana Burke, executive director for the Virginia Beach Hotel Association. “It insulates the tourism industry from inclement weather and cancelations.” 

Burke told council April tourism numbers were down due to wet weather.

Several athletic coaches and parents of young athletes also voiced support for the project, saying currently they must travel to Hampton for activities such as indoor volleyball.  

However others in attendance took issue with the cost of the project and said some funds could be better spent on public safety or stormwater improvements. 

“This center would be great down there,” said Joe Davis, a lifelong resident of Virginia Beach, “but all it would take is another drive-by shooting and that is what’s going to be talked about down there. Not the sports center.” 

Davis asked council to put off the vote for more study. 

With the approval site clearing is expected to start next month with the entire project completed by November 2020.