Rhode Island Gov. Dan McKee has coached basketball, ran his own health and racquetball club in Woonsocket, and has been involved in sports since he was a kid. Though he's seen a lot of sports …
Rhode Island Gov. Dan McKee has coached basketball, ran his own health and racquetball club in Woonsocket, and has been involved in sports since he was a kid. Though he's seen a lot of sports facilities, he couldn't believe the scale of the place when he visited Tiverton's Longplex Family & Sports Center Wednesday morning.
"Wow," the governor said as he and Longplex owner and founder Jim Long walked out onto the main floor and took in the view of the 200,000-square foot facility just off Route 24.
"This is an unbelievable facility you've got here."
Long invited Gov. McKee, local officials and members of the Rhode Island Sports Commission and Rhode Island Commerce, to tour the facility Wednesday. He hopes to build another similar complex in the northwestern part of the state, and wanted state officials to see Longplex's scope, and learn of the impact it has had on youth and adult sports in southeastern New England.
"They're really interested in getting the little ones involved" in sports, Long said of state leaders. That's why he invited them, he said — "so they could come down and see it, and is it possible to do something like this somewhere else?"
Though informally touted as a celebration of Longplex's "soft opening," the facility has been open for some time. Construction began more than four years ago, the building first opened three and a half years ago, and amenities have been added in stages since then. Long said the last of the work has recently been completed, and the complex is now fully built out.
The enormous complex sprawls over three floors, and though it can be reconfigured for many different uses, currently houses two soccer fields, four basketball courts, a full-size hockey rink, batting cages and other amenities on the main floor. Other levels house a full health club, video game arcade, bouncy slides, a restaurant and several dining areas, and visitors can walk along the periphery on a quarter mile indoor track. The recently completed upper floors include health and fitness-related tenants, a husband and wife mixed martial arts and Brazilian jiu jitsu academy, Botox and laser surgery services, private health consultants and other related health and sports-related offerings.
Rep. John Edwards of Tiverton, Tiverton Town Administrator Chris Cotta, and Tiverton's police and fire chiefs also attended, along with assorted state aides and media representatives. Cotta and McKee spoke briefly about the facility and its impact, and despite recent issues involving parking, fire codes and other local issues, Cotta told McKee he is happy to have Longplex in town.
"He's got some local zoning issues, but this is a good business here," Cotta said.
Pausing in the workout space of Performance Physical Therapy on the third floor, Long said he is proud of the facility and the positive impact it has had on Tiverton:
“I wanted to be able to provide a space for people to feel welcomed and at home," he said. "We do so much more than house sports. We offer jobs to the community and promote overall wellness to everyone. There’s nothing else like Longplex in the state.”