National Volleyball Center
Over the years, hundreds of thousands of athletes, from all over the US and Canada, have enjoyed the experience of playing their sport at Rochester’s National Volleyball Center. However, most do not know how or why Rochester ended up with this facility located at Century High School – so here is some detailed history.
It goes way back to 1987, when Minnesota Governor Rudy Perpich appropriated $29M towards Minnesota sports facilities and associations. It was at that time the Minnesota Amateur Sports Commission and the National Sports Center in Blaine were created. It was Perpich’s vision to develop sports facilities that would position Minnesota as a winter sport training ground and someday – state that could potentially attract and host the Winter Olympics.
There were many facilities built in addition to the Blaine complex (which utilized $14.7M of those dollars), including the National Ice Hockey Center in St. Cloud, the Ice Oval in Roseville, a Nordic ski facility in the Hibbing area (Giant’s Ridge), and the National Volleyball Center in Rochester to mention a few.
While there was a great deal of initial support for the ideas, the reality of developing all those facilities ran into challenges. With new political leaders in various areas, the processes slowed. In Rochester, the vision for the National Volleyball Center temporarily stalled. Finally, in 1994, a local group begin design of the facility. By 1996 the original funding request of $5M was trimmed to $2.3M by state leadership with the request to match those dollars locally.
It was at that time Century High School (CHS) was being built so Rochester leaders saw opportunity in partnering with the school to bridge the funding gap of the local match. It was agreed the school would contribute the land as their part of the investment – giving Rochester Public School students access to the facility during school hours and entrusting the City with operating the building overall.
The facility was built and opened in the fall of 1998. With the funding cuts and high costs in construction, the facility lacked some of the originally-designed features but was still built with world-class standards dedicated to the sport of volleyball. Bio II cushion hardwood floors, extra high ceilings, Olympic quality lighting, and viewing decks were perfect for youth and their families. Soon the building was running at capacity and enjoyed by volleyball players from all over the country.
With the successes brought an appetite to finish the facility and address those elements that were missing from the original vision. After several political battles, Rochester received the requested $4M in 2010 to add more courts and needed additional spaces.
For over twenty years this facility has been the home to numerous annual youth tournaments and helped in the development of many outstanding athletes. Annually the facility is host to twenty-five bustling youth tournament weekends and generated over $3.2M in direct spending coming to our community. But best of all – it is the special experience the volleyball youth enjoy when they play in a facility built specifically for their sport.
It took the dedicated work of many to create a unique facility in our community that has lived up to the expectations of the visionaries who first conceive of the idea. While the National Volleyball Center and the state of Minnesota may never host the Winter Olympics, it has been a great training center for the area’s top athletes, a busy recreational facility for all area’s volleyball players to enjoy and a key economic driver for the Rochester community. We are very fortunate to have the National Volleyball Center in our community and are grateful to those who made it happen decades ago!