Henry County Administrator Dale Wagoner on Wednesday said no immediate changes are planned in the current operations of the Monogram Foods Smith River Sports Complex.
“Our Parks & Recreation Department hasn’t been involved in the day-to-day operations of the complex. For now, the complex will continue as it is to allow us to evaluate the most effective and efficient organizational structure and operations,” Wagoner said.
That decision followed Tuesday actions by both county and city officials, who respectively approved separate resolutions to dissolve the Southern Virginia Recreation Facilities Authority (SVRFA), which oversees the complex.
The decision was prompted by the authority, which previously submitted a letter to both localities requesting the dissolution.
“It is noted in the letter from Scott Prillaman, chairman of the (authority) board, that their current model of funding for the Smith River Sports Complex is not sustainable,” Wagoner said Tuesday. Prillaman “also noted that inflation and limited access to top tier tournaments have restricted its ability to be profitable as a standalone organization.”
The authority also noted in the letter its belief that the county would best handle continued operations of the complex, Wagoner added.
“The facility is still a premier facility. They’re still hosting top-tier soccer and Frisbee and other tournaments. It is the desire of the board of directors to keep it that way and as mentioned, they feel that the county can do that better than having an authority that’s less dependable on outside funds for its operations,” Wagoner said before the supervisors voted to approve the resolution.
Martinsville officials later approved a similar resolution, paving the way for the county to assume management of the complex, and for the assets to be transferred to the county.
Supervisors also approved a $250,000 appropriation from the Harvest Foundation and authorized Wagoner to move the funds into the new appropriate line items to operate the complex.
Debra Buchanan, of the Horsepasture District, asked about the economic impact on the county once it takes over the complex.
Wagoner said when the complex was created, the funding was supplemented by the Harvest Foundation. However, “that funding has no longer been available to the (authority’s) board of directors to use for operations.”
Wagoner said he anticipates the revenue from sponsorships will continue to be a revenue source to offset the costs of operating the facility. He noted the complex has been operating on a shoestring budget for about two years.
“Ideally, that’s not how we want to operate,” Wagoner said. “I don’t have a good number to tell you that it’s going to cost exactly this amount, because we don’t want to operate it just like it’s been operating for the last two years.”
The complex “also provides a valuable service for our community,” Wagoner said. “Over 800 children participated in rec league soccer at the sports complex this past year. That’s a lot of children participating in that sport.”
People from all over the country and several universities visit the facility to play soccer and Ultimate Frisbee, he said.
In a Wednesday release, Prillaman said the complex “has become well known for its quality facilities and operations, attracting thousands of people to this area each year, along with generating significant revenue for the community through taxes on hotels, food, and products.
“I am extremely proud of the great work the staff has done in keeping the operation running smoothly. However, the current model of funding for SRSC is not sustainable. It is our belief that the continued operation of a premier facility can best be accomplished by Henry County,” he wrote in the release.
All assets and operations of the complex will be transferred to the county, to allow the complex to continue to operate normally, with current staff in place for events, games, and recreation leagues, while the county benefits from the additional staffing and financial assistance, according to the release.
“I believe Monogram Sports Complex will be a great addition to Parks & Rec., and this change will allow greater efficiencies and improved maintenance to the facility,” Lloyd Barber, executive director of the complex, wrote in the release. “This will be a mutually beneficial arrangement for both parties and provide even more opportunities to the residents of Martinsville-Henry County. We’re excited to see the growth for years to come.”
The complex hosts youth, high school, college, and community events from January to December. In 2022, the sports complex hosted an event on all but two weekends of the year and over 300 days of the year, while bringing visitors to Martinsville from 25 different states and nine different countries, according to the release.