Improving communities through sport

The Role of Sports Facilities During an Emergency

Paradise Coast Hurricane Relief

Image courtesy of Paradise Coast Sports Complex

When communities face the threat of natural disasters and emergency situations, it is crucial that they have safe and reliable spaces to turn to for shelter, aid, and support. Youth sports venues are perfect for this because, typically, they are centrally located, have the ability to accommodate a large number of people, and are equipped with essential amenities such as restrooms and electricity. Sports facilities have played a key role in disaster response and recovery, from hurricanes to earthquakes. In this article, we will explore how youth sports venues can be repurposed to serve as essential community assets during times of crisis.

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Rocky Top Sports World Case Study

Distribution Centers

When disaster strikes, sports facilities can be transformed into food distribution centers. Thanks to their spacious infrastructure and central locations, they are perfectly suited to stockpile, organize, and distribute food and water to affected community members. The facility staff and relief organizations work together to quickly set up operations in these venues. The areas that are usually filled with cheering fans can hold tons of canned goods, bottled water, and other non-perishable items. The open fields or courts can be used to sort and package these supplies. And because these venues are often in popular areas, accessible by public transportation, they are easy to find for those in need. Community members can come to these makeshift distribution centers to receive necessary supplies, reducing the risk of hunger and dehydration following a disaster. By repurposing sports facilities in this way, we can ensure that help is readily available where and when it’s needed most.

Our very own Paradise Sports Complex in Naples, Florida partnered with St. Matthew’s House to transform the venue into a distribution center after the area was devastated by Hurricane Ian. Volunteers from Paradise Coast, St. Matthew’s House, and Collier County helped provide food and water to 741 families that were affected by the category 5 hurricane that struck Florida in 2022.

Emergency Shelters

In the event of a sudden evacuation due to a natural disaster, where can people go, especially when homes are no longer safe? This is where sports facilities can come into play. Gymnasiums, stadiums, and sports venues can transform into sanctuaries offering much-needed shelter. These facilities often have the capacity to house hundreds, sometimes thousands, of people. They come equipped with essential amenities such as restrooms, showers, and electricity, which are vital during emergencies. The large indoor spaces can be sectioned off to create sleeping areas, while outdoor spaces can be used for cooking and dining if it is safe to go outside. Because facilities are typically in central locations, they are easily accessible for community members and aid workers alike. By repurposing sports facilities as emergency shelters, you can not only provide a safe space for those in need but also utilize community resources effectively and efficiently during crisis situations.

Rocky Top Sports World was used as a Red Cross shelter following the Gatlinburg wildfires that happened in 2016. The facility housed and fed thousands of people who were evacuated or lost their homes.

Testing/Vaccination Sites

During the COVID-19 pandemic, sports facilities around the world demonstrated their versatility by serving as vital testing and vaccination sites. As the need for mass testing and vaccination arose, these large-scale venues presented a solution due to their spacious interiors and ample parking facilities, which allowed for efficient drive-through setups. Venues across the U.S. became places where people could drive up, get tested, or receive their vaccine, all within the familiar setting of their local sports facility. These repurposed venues played a crucial role in managing the public health crisis, providing easily accessible and efficient services to community members. The transformation of sports facilities into testing and vaccination spots underscores their value as adaptable community resources, capable of meeting urgent needs during challenging times.

By repurposing youth sports venues to serve as essential community assets during times of crisis, we can ensure that our communities have the resources they need to stay safe and recover quickly. Just another way that these facilities can help to improve the health and well-being of their home communities. If you are looking to build a sports facility in your area, contact us or give us a call at (727) 474-3845.

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