ROGERS, Ark. (KFSM) — Arkansas Athletes Outreach (AAO) will be breaking ground next week on its new Benton County athletic facility.
The groundbreaking ceremony will begin at 11 a.m. on Friday (May 10) for the new facility on Dixieland Rd. in Rogers, next to High Rise Trampoline Park.
The AAO Whitaker Family Sports Center will be AAO’s second sports complex. The 54,000 square-foot indoor sport and recreational complex will sit on 10 acres of land. It will also have two outdoor multi-sport fields.
AAO Director Brad Friess says with Northwest Arkansas’ growing population and the demand for youth sports programming, the current facility is not well-equipped to fit their needs.
“We estimate there are approximately 17 hardwood courts serving the youth and recreational needs of Washington County,” said Friess. “However, in Benton County, we have three community recreation centers with seven courts for a current population of 260,000, so we are woefully under-served here.”
Friess, who’s a former Arkansas Razorback basketball player, founded AAO in 1990 with the plan of being a campus organization to mentor University of Arkansas athletes and provide youth outreach. In September 2011, AAO transitioned to a regional sports mentoring center for youth, opening the doors to the P. Whitaker Sports Center, a 43,000 square-foot facility in Fayetteville.
Currently, AAO provides sports opportunities for more than 5,000 children annually.
More than $7 million has been raised for the new facility through AAO’s silent campaign efforts. Fundraising will continue for the outdoor sports fields. The estimated completion date for the AAO Whitaker Family Sports Center is early 2020.
The new facility will hold four large multi-functional hardwood courts, a 45-yard turf athletic field, classrooms, a weight room, locker rooms and a concession area. Each court area will have its own customized and contained area, with six retractable basketball goals and retractable bleachers to give it the flexibility it needs to support an array of activities and programming. Furthermore, the facility will also house an innovative athletic-based fitness program, a physical therapy clinic and a sports medicine clinic.
“The AAO Whitaker Family Sports Center will serve the recreational, competitive sports and fitness needs of families and teams in Benton County,” said Friess. “Additionally, both AAO campuses will work in cooperation with one another to attract and host quality youth sporting events in Northwest Arkansas.”