Hoover celebrated today its newest star – the Finley Center, a state-of-the-art indoor sports and events facility that will bring the nation to the city’s doorstep.
The city hosted a grand opening and ribbon-cutting at the center, located within the newly revitalized Hoover Metropolitan Complex. The Finley Center is expected to create an annual economic impact of between $27 million and $33 million, and bring an additional 125 jobs to the area.
“We’re very excited about the opening of the Finley Center,” said Hoover Mayor Frank Brocato. “We believe it’s going to be a great tourist attraction and will draw people from all over the United States, particularly youth traveling sports clubs and their families. It will also be a great draw for conventions and other community events.”
The 155,000-square-foot facility is named for Bob Finley, a longtime head coach at Hoover’s W.A. Berry High School. While at Berry, Finley developed award-winning athletic programs few schools could match. He was selected as a member of the Alabama High School Coaches Hall of Fame in 1992 for his leadership on the field and in the gym.
“It’s so thrilling. For his name to be on the Finley Center, it shows the respect people have for him,” said Diane Finley, wife of the late Berry coach who led the school’s athletic program for 30 years. “Bob was very humble and did not like being in the limelight at all. But I think he would be pleased because it pleases his wife, kids and relatives.”
Diane Finley said her husband believed in turning his young athletes into lifelong leaders.
“He told me, ‘Diane, I know high school coaches don’t make a lot of money. But I think this is what God wants me to do – stay here and make a difference,” she said. “He was a great coach, but he was also a great individual who walked the walk and would not ask his players to do anything he wouldn’t do.”
The Finley Center completes the first phase of the Hoover Metropolitan Complex project that was started in January 2016. A one-of-a-kind facility, the complex includes Hoover Metropolitan Stadium and an expanded recreational vehicle (RV) park.
The Finley Center encompasses more than 83,000 square feet of uninterrupted space, which can be configured for up to 11 basketball or 17 volleyball courts.
Other features include a walking track, food court, performance center, trade show exhibition space, a Clip ‘n Climb attraction, a 2,400-seat banquet hall, theater-style seating for 5,000 and meeting rooms for convention participants. Drop-down netting is available to divide the spaces, allowing multiple activities to take place at the same time.
“The indoor events center is multipurpose and capable of hosting a variety of functions and sporting activities,” said Monty Jones, general manager, Hoover Metropolitan Complex: Hoover Met Stadium and the Finley Center.
Since it opened, the center has welcomed several major events, including the Southeastern Conference (SEC) Baseball FanFest. The event for all ages featuredarcade games, driving simulators, a zip line, billiards, football and air hockey tables, shuffleboard, miniature golf, live entertainment, a Lego construction zone, photo booths and a Ferris wheel.
“We had thousands of people circulating through the Finley Center during SEC week,” Brocato said. “They were able to go in there and relax, and enjoy all sorts of activities. It was a positive experience for the fans when they were not watching baseball.”
The Finley Center is only a taste of what is to come. When Phase II of the Metropolitan Complex is completed, it will feature five National Collegiate Athletic Association (NCAA) regulation-size soccer/football/lacrosse fields, five NCAA regulation-size baseball/softball fields, 16 tennis courts with a pro shop, a playground, splash pad and large event lawn. Parking will be expanded to about 5,000 additional spots.
“It has been estimated that at its height, the Finley Center will provide a $33 million financial impact for the city,” Brocato said. “Folks here recognized that this center would be an ideal way to bring people from all over the country to Hoover to eat in our restaurants, stay in our hotels and shop in our stores.”