The Wesley Chapel District Park on Boyette Rd. already has basketball courts outside, but once the county’s 18,000-sq.-ft. indoor facility at the park has been completed, it will provide and indoor home for those who want to play hoops and other sports that are often difficult to play outside with Florida’s unpredictable weather. (Photos: John C. Cotey)

The new indoor sports and recreation center being built by Pasco County at the Wesley Chapel District Park (WCDP) will have indoor courts for basketball, volleyball, pickleball and other sports, plus the flexibility to host meetings in additional rooms and the opportunity for summer camps. That may not be all that unique for such a facility, but this is:

It’s going to finish on time.

The Neighborhood News went on a recent tour of the new $4.8-million facility, which Pasco County project manager Curtis Franklin proudly says will open as expected in June. That’s big news coming off a year where so many projects have been slowed due to Covid-influenced difficulties in getting building materials on time.

“If you get this done by June, I really need to get you on more projects,” District 2 Pasco Commissioner Mike Moore quipped.

Pasco Commissioner Mike Moore tried out his slapshot at the Tampa Bay Lightning-funded outdoor roller rink during a recent tour of the county’s new indoor gymnasium at WCDP.

The new facility, located at 7727 Boyette Rd., has gone vertical and is taking shape. Located right next to the Tampa Bay Lightning street hockey rink — Comm. Moore and parks director Keith Wiley fired a few shots before the tour (and we can neither confirm nor deny whether they put any in between the pipes) — the long-awaited recreation facility will have 18,000 square feet of indoor space, including 10,000 for a court that will be used for a variety of indoor sports. 

The court is large enough for a regulation size basketball court and can be converted to two 3/4 length perpendicular basketball courts for youth leagues, two volleyball courts or six pickleball courts. Cheerleading and dance also can be held inside, and plans also may include indoor soccer, also known as futsal.

With the push of a button, a partition can even separate the gymnasium in two, allowing for a multi-purpose room on one side and a court on the other.

The facility will use the additional 8,000 square feet of space for two multipurpose rooms (one of them large enough to convert to two rooms) for meetings, as well as a full kitchen and offices.

The facility opens up in the back to a large seating area overlooking a grassy area, which can accommodate parties, small concerts and even movies in the park.

With the new gymnasium, plus tennis courts, 20 fields for soccer, lacrosse and flag football fields, a first-of-its-kind inclusive playground for children with disabilities, a regular playground, the Lightning street hockey rink, fishing, fitness trails, picnic areas, a pavilion and still plenty of leftover space on its 144 acres, WCDP will be the premier park in Pasco County.

“This is kind of the model for future district parks,” Wiley said during our tour.

The facility at WCDP also will be able to host summer camps, which will be a big deal, Wiley says. Currently, campers hoping to take part in the county’s popular summer programs have to drive to the Land O’Lakes Recreation Complex on Collier Pkwy., which Wiley says fills up within minutes once registration is opened each year.

Meanwhile, the much larger Wiregrass Ranch Sports Campus of Pasco County, located just a few miles south of WCDP, was completed in July as a public-private partnership between the county and RADDSports, Moore says, but the new indoor facility at WCDP will serve a different audience.

The future front entrance to the indoor gym at WCDP.

“When it comes to the county, tourism has always been the focus for Wiregrass Ranch — holding events and bringing people into town on weekends who will be spending money in the community,” Moore says. “This is more for local residents, a place for the community to congregate.”

Wiley said the county’s Parks & Recreation Dept. controls six sites for future parks in Pasco County, and three of those will be built in Wesley Chapel in the areas of future master planned developments in Wyndfields, Two Rivers and the Village of Pasadena Hills (VOPH) once concurrency calls for it and the funding can be found. 

Those three projects will add a combined 50,000 or so homes to Wesley Chapel. Those projects, however, are years away from being built.

Until then, WCDP’s expansion will widen the scope of what can be offered to Wesley Chapel residents.

“The gymnasium was always the plan (when the park was originally built), we just needed to get the funding,” Wiley said. “The more residents, the more services you need, and Wesley Chapel is booming.”

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