Carolina Courts races toward opening next month

INDIAN TRAIL – The new Carolina Courts facility is moving closer to opening on Matthews-Indian Trail Road, as crews work to prepare the parking lot, complete the center’s diner and stripe the basketball courts in time to open for business on Nov. 4.

The Carolina Courts facility at Indian Trail’s Chestnut Square Park will open in November and include multiple basketball courts, a diner and meeting space.

The Carolina Courts facility at Indian Trail’s Chestnut Square Park will open in November and include multiple basketball courts, a diner and meeting space.

The center, which includes numerous basketball courts that can host not only basketball but also volleyball, gymnastics, wrestling, indoor soccer and other sporting events, looks to open around the first weekend of November, have a ribbon-cutting ceremony in mid-November and then an official grand opening after Thanksgiving. It will replace the Carolina Courts location on Stinson Hartis Road, where the Monroe Bypass is planned to eventually cut through, and will be aligned with Indian Trail’s new Chestnut Square Park, currently under construction beside the sports center.

“We’re already booked through July (2014),” Scott Chitwood, co-founder of Carolina Courts, said of upcoming tournaments and events while giving a tour of his new facility this week. Basketball and volleyball are the main draw for Carolina Courts, but not the only attraction, as the facility will partner with Indian Trail for free access, festivals and town events. There are four high school-sized basketball courts in the new center, which can be divided into eight middle school-sized courts. The showcase court can seat between 700 to 800 people for a big tournament game, Chitwood said, and dividers can be placed between the courts so separate events can take place at once.

Chitwood and town officials hope the center, when not in use for planned tournaments and special events, becomes a place Indian Trail families and businesses turn to for exercise and fellowship.

“We want it to be a special place for Indian Trail residents,” Chitwood said, and through a partnership with the town, residents will be able to use the facility for free. Residents will be able to obtain an identification card from Carolina Courts, after proving they live in town through a utility bill or something similar, and use the card to access the facility – which Chitwood said may be open from 8 a.m. to 11 p.m. each day. Exact hours are under discussion.

“We want kids and families to have healthy opportunities to spend their time together,” Indian Trail’s town manager, Joe Fivas, said. As part of the agreement that kept Carolina Courts in Indian Trail, the town will be able to use the facility for a camp for disabled or at-risk youth and can display information in the Carolina Courts lobby and include town branding on the inside and outside of the building itself.

The facility is expected to draw around 200,000 to 240,000 visitors a year, which could have an economic impact of $2 million to $3 million annually on the local economy, Chitwood said. It also will host summer camps and free clinic nights for volunteers at local athletic associations, where Carolina Courts trained staff will give instruction on drills and other topics. Chitwood said there are conversations taking place about what kind of family-friendly events could be offered on Friday nights.

“We offer things for everyone, from small (kids) to seniors,” Chitwood said. “We keep evolving. We get a lot of ideas for things to do.”

Outside the center, Chestnut Square Park will include lighted tennis courts and sand volleyball pits as well as a playground and walking trails. Chitwood and town staff say Carolina Courts will be a good place for residents to turn to get out of the elements when it’s cold or stormy and the park isn’t an option for exercise or play time.

It also can serve as a soft walking place for seniors, and will include the Nana’s Soul Food Kitchen, which will offer healthy food options as well as have a bar with three televisions. The kitchen will have separate access, and people can dine there without having to enter the sports section of the facility.

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