Florence’s new soccer, basketball facilities just the start

FLORENCE, S.C. — When it comes to recreational sports facilities, it’s all about keeping up, and even surpassing, for Florence these days.

That’s why in recent months a new soccer facility and a new basketball gym have opened, and Florence isn’t about to stop there, according to city of Florence recreation division manager Darlene Buchanan.

There is a good deal of open space out where the Dr. Eddie Floyd Florence Tennis Center is off of North Cashua Drive, and there are plans to use it for a new track and a baseball and softball complex.

It might not seem all that long ago that Freedom Florence was opened. At that time, it was state of the art, but it’s almost three decades old.

The facility still holds its own hosting baseball and softball tournaments, as well as high school cross country meets, and it had an economic impact of approximately $10 million last year, Buchanan said.

But, “Florence is competing with the Myrtle Beaches, North Myrtle Beaches, Rock Hills and Charlottes and places like that,” Buchanan said. “We have to continue to look at ways to improve our facilities.”

The newest facility to open is the basketball center at the Barnes Street Gym. The basketball center was dedicated in April and named after former Francis Marion University great and Florence native Pearl Moore.

The basketball center, located at 500 Barnes St., is roughly 31,525 square feet in size and includes three full-size basketball courts, an area for concessions and office space for staff.

The center will serve as home to the Florence Youth Basketball League, travel basketball tournaments and the Pee Dee Picklers, a local pickleball team. Buchanan said the local semi-pro basketball team, the Florence Wildcats, also will call the gym home in the future.

The city’s new $7 million soccer complex, off U.S. 76 near I-95, opened in mid-February. It contains 14 soccer fields. Eight are regulation-size fields, two are lighted championship-style fields and four are regulation practice fields.

There’s still work to be done at the facility, Buchanan said. There are plans for about a 6,000-square-foot building that will serve as a concession stand, restrooms, storage, meeting space and office staff that might be assigned to that location.

As far as development on the land at the tennis center, the track is first up, Buchanan said. A year ago, officials had to cap the track program because the athletes-to-coaches ratio was too high. But Buchanan said she thinks a new track facility will help attract more athletes and more volunteers to coach.

“We don’t want to turn any kid away,” she said. “And I think we’ll get a renewed interest from adults wanting to get involved. Everybody likes to be involved in something new.”