Rocky Mount had fallen on hard times. Situated in rural North Carolina about an hour east of the state capital, Rocky Mount was first bludgeoned by Hurricane Floyd in 1999, which severely flooded the small town and forced many residents to move. Then, the town’s mill jobs shifted overseas, and the downtown became a largely vacant and dilapidated eyesore. Today, however, the future is looking brighter thanks, in part, to the Rocky Mount Event Center, a new multifaceted, 165,000-sq.-ft. venue designed to host sporting events, concerts, conferences and trade shows.
“We had forecasted 18 significant events in the first year of operation. In the two weeks it’s been open, we’ve booked 55 events,” says Dev Pathik, co-founder and CEO of Sports Facilities Advisory.
Clearwater, Fla.-based SFA helps communities assess the feasibility and “financeability” of youth and amateur sports facilities, community rec centers and event centers. The company also helps develop, manage and operate these venues, in some cases providing financing and aggregating investment partners or securing state and federal funds.
Rocky Mount Event Center is among SFA’s management clients. In addition to doing work like market studies, on-site planning and financial forecasts, SFA worked with the Opportunities Industrialization Center of Rocky Mount to open an urgent care clinic within the facility. Pathik says SFA also helped secure new market tax credits, a federally backed incentive that supports underserved communities.
Pathik says the Rocky Mount project is indicative of SFA’s mission: to both improve the health and economic vitality of the communities it serves, as well as get more kids involved with sports, especially in low-income areas where sports participation has dwindled.