Virginia Beach, Virginia, is already a tourism haven, and thanks to a recent vote by its City Council, its sports tourism is about to grow considerably as well.

In an 8-2 vote, the City Council gave the city manager approval to sign an agreement to construct a new $68 million  sports center at the oceanfront.

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 the council.

“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 the 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.

Construction is expected to start in August with the project wrapping up in November 2020.

Virginia Beach is a resort city with miles of beaches and hundreds of hotels, motels, and restaurants along its oceanfront. Every year, the city hosts the East Coast Surfing Championships as well as the North American Sand Soccer Championship, a beach soccer tournament. It is also home to several state parks, several long-protected beach areas, three military bases, a number of large corporations.