Horizons Edge Sports Campus working through financial challenges

Published: Sep. 13, 2023 at 11:57 PM EDT
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HARRISONBURG, Va. (WHSV) - Last month the Rockingham County Board of Supervisors approved the construction of a rec center at Rockingham Park. It’s something that caught Horizons Edge Sports Campus in Harrisonburg off guard, as it was concerned about potential competition from the new rec center.

“We knew that there was a plan from 2014 from the County to build a rec center out at the park where they have the ball fields. So we spoke with the administration then [When Horizons Edge was preparing to be built] and we were assured that if we built this why would they need to, and it wouldn’t happen. That was important before we got investors to put money in,” said John Hall, the owner of Horizons Edge.

Hall said that when Horizons Edge opened, it was known that margins would thin because of the area’s population but that it was determined that if there was no competition nearby, it should be successful.

“When we started, we weren’t worried after we got the building up that a private company would be coming in because a private company would recognize that two sports facilities would fit in this town. But we had no idea at the time that we’d end up with one of the government agencies competing with us,” he said. “So that’s frustrating, however, it’s happened now, and we want to move on. We still want to make sure the children of the community and everyone else have a place to enjoy recreation and sport.”

Hall said that Horizons Edge actually offered Rockingham County the chance to purchase its facility rather than build its own rec center, but the county declined because it wanted a facility with a track.

“My hope with the county is that we’re able to reach something of an agreement that really helps us to be able to reach the goals that we have with the tournament groups and such to help us make this viable,” said Hall.

Hall said that he and the Horizons Edge team did meet with Rockingham County leaders earlier this week and said that the plan is for them to work together to minimize competition between the two facilities.

The County said that its Rec Center will not compete with Horizons Edge. This and other questions about the County Rec Center are addressed here.

Horizons Edge opened just before the COVID-19 pandemic which has made things difficult financially from the beginning.

“We didn’t have the best crystal ball as far as getting started because this isn’t a business that you would start knowing there was a pandemic coming. We had no idea, obviously, that came, we were open a few weeks and then we had to close for six months. Then we crawled back open as best we could while following the CDC guidelines,” said Hall.

A big part of Horizons Edge’s revenue comes from hosting tournaments and other events.

“We have many different leagues that community members are involved in and that’s great but that alone will not pay the bills of the facility. So, we have to have a very robust tournament business which happens on the weekends, also other specialty groups like dog shows and other activities. Those are the ones that make a difference so we can pay for the facility,” said Hall.

Hall said Horizons Edge also hopes to host more rec sporting events for Harrisonburg City and Rockingham County. Horizons Edge has yet to break even but hopes that its investors didn’t get behind the facility for the money.

“The group of investors that put this project together did it not for a return on their investment, even though they’re hoping to get something at some point, but they did it because they wanted our community to have something children and youth can attach to that is positive,” said Hall.