Centre County sports center is finally starting to take shape. Here’s what will be inside

Construction of the Nittany Valley Sports Centre on Bernel Road is underway on Thursday, Nov. 15, 2018.
Construction of the Nittany Valley Sports Centre on Bernel Road is underway on Thursday, Nov. 15, 2018. adrey@centredaily.com

It’s been almost five years since plans to build the Nittany Valley Sports Centre in Patton Township were approved, but now it appears the indoor sports facility might open its doors in February.

Construction has begun at the Nittany Valley Sports Centre at the intersection of Fox Hill and Bernel roads in Patton Township and what will be inside the complex is beginning to take shape.

According to its website, the 70,000-square-foot sports center will offer recreational and competitive sports activities for all ages, along with space for meetings, charity events and team-building seminars. The year-round facility will have playing fields for soccer, field hockey, lacrosse, baseball, softball and flag football with youth and adult leagues for all skill levels, as well as early childhood development programs based around sports and summer camps. Additionally, Centre Elite Gymnastics, Energy Rehabilitation and Training and Parisi Speed School, a national agility, strength and skills training organization, will be located inside the center.

“The Parisi speed and agility program will not only offer stand-alone speed, fitness, and strength classes but will be combined with skills training for multiple sports to offer a well-rounded athletic development program for children of all ages,” said sports center General Manager Michael Lee.

There will also be a full-size outdoor field that can be used for soccer, baseball, field hockey, softball, lacrosse, rugby and football. Lee said the center hopes to eventually add artificial turf to the outdoor field.

Tracy Salvino-Longenecker, the owner of Centre Elite Gymnastics now located at 2120 Old Gatesburg Road in State College, said her organization’s new 16,500-square-foot facility will include two fully equipped gyms, multiple in-ground trampolines, an “up-to-date” training pit that is four times larger than the current one, more competitive and class equipment, a parent-observation area above the gym, dedicated adult fitness room, multiple dance studios, an “improved” customer service area and family bathrooms with changing stations.

“We will be able to have more space for the classes we currently have,” she said. “We’ll have room for more students ... and more class space per class.”

Centre Elite recently started a new trampoline and tumbling team, and Salvino-Longenecker said they hope to expand that team.

The gymnastics center will also offer dance classes through Hot Styles Dance Company, which has locations in Bellefonte and State College.

Recently, the Nittany Valley Sports Centre received a $1.5 million grant from the state’s Redevelopment Assistance Capital Program, which aims to help areas with projects that increase cultural and economic development.

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The grant, according to Lee, is designated for a possible second phase of the sports center project, that would include space for tournaments and other events such as trade shows. “The ability to build Phase 2 depends on a number of other factors, which we’re also working on at this point,” he said.

A 2006 study commissioned by the Central Pennsylvania Convention and Visitors Bureau found a lack of sports facilities in the Centre region away from Penn State’s campus. Since then, developers and local leaders alike have sought to add more sports facilities, but a need remains.

In 2015, a follow up study done by the National Association of Sports Commissions at the request of the Central Pennsylvania Convention and Visitors Bureau pinpointed the need for a multi-court indoor sports facility in Centre County with the capacity to host tournaments and other large sporting events.

“We’re looking for Phase 2 to help fill this void, especially as it comes to ‘sports tourism’ in the Centre region,” said Lee.