Henrico leaders dedicate new state-of-the-art basketball courts
HENRICO, Va. (WWBT) - Henrico’s Fairfield community is getting a major glow-up with the completion of a state-of-the-art basketball court near Fairfield Middle School.
Henrico County leaders and Parks & Recreation dedicated the new court with a ribbon-cutting Thursday afternoon. The approximately $600,000 project was the brainchild of Fairfield District County Supervisor Tyrone Nelson.
“The sky is the limit when you put in the type of investment we put here,” Nelson said. “We just don’t have this in Eastern Henrico.”
Before construction began last August, there was only a small concrete volleyball slab with no net. Now there are four courts with acrylic red and blue surfacing, built to college, WNBA and NBA standards. The courts also feature LED lighting to illuminate the entire space.
“Appearance matters, architecture matters. We want things to look nice,” Parks & Rec Director Patrick Nalley said.
Nalley says many of the finishing touches, like the nets, were added the morning of the dedication, and the paint and bleachers were completed less than a week ago.
“We need to put up some signs, and we’ll probably put up more bleachers,” Nalley said. “We just wanted to get it open, get kids playing on it, and we’ll figure out the other details later.”
The court is just one of the county’s recent outdoor projects. Nelson says the county just wrapped up construction of a new $4 million baseball facility at Dorey Park. Plans are also underway for a new family park known as Taylor Park. Nelson thought basketball courts would be a perfect fit for the Fairfield district.
Nelson says several community leagues play inside of the Fairfield Middle School gym. Now he believes they will have an opportunity to expand with the number of courts outside and possibly draw out other community leagues from different localities.
“This too adds to our young people to see that we can have nice things here in Henrico. It’s top of the line!” Nelson said. “I would put this place against any other outdoor place in our region. I want this to be the place to be known where you can play really good outdoor basketball.”
While the courts have been officially opened to play on, he says it might be a few more weeks before they have completed all of the amenities.
Nelson says the entire project took almost two years of planning, from concept to completion.
Even with the rain, the community wasted no time breaking in the nets. Before long, 3-on-3 pickup games broke out between the Henrico County Police Department and Fire Department. There were also several kids and teens practicing shots on one of the multiple goals.
Nelson says he wants the court to be a space where youth can feel proud to play and feel safe. Like so many communities, this one hasn’t been spared from violence. According to Henrico police, of the 13 homicides in Henrico so far in 2022, three juveniles were also killed by gun violence, including two basketball stars at Highland Springs and Henrico high schools.
“Hopefully, this will help build relationships,” Nelson said. “I’m certain Jahiem Dickerson and Diamond Brown would be out here playing on the court over the summer, and I’m hoping that their friends and their community will find some solace in coming out here and playing the game they loved.”
Plans are in the works to start up youth community leagues and adult leagues next summer. Until Parks & Rec establishes official hours, people can use the court until the lights turn off at 10 p.m.
“We want to program as much as possible, but we also want it to just be open where kids can come and play ball - play all day if they want to,” Nelson said. “This is to get them out of the house and off the streets.”
By 7 p.m. Thursday, all of the four courts were being used by people in the community.
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