Jay Paul photo
The Richmond region could become a year-round factory for Olympic athletes if one man's vision holds true. Early last month, Chesterfield resident Steve Burton said his venture, SportsQuest, was soon to begin construction on a 50-acre, $100-million complex that will accommodate high-performance sports programs such as speed skating, cycling and swimming. Plans for the complex include a 6,000-seat arena, a sports-medicine center, retail space, a hotel, a 50,000-square-foot field house, and spaces for family entertainment and fitness training.
So far, Burton has nailed down the building plans, financing and approvals for the sports campus in Chesterfield County's Waterford Business Center at Powhite Parkway and state Route 288. His current target is to accomplish the first of a four-phase plan that will take two to three years to complete.
"We have Phase I plans ready to go and we are working hard to get some of it done by fall," he says, adding, "I want to have an Olympic-size pool in the ground full of water" by September. By Spring 2010, he says, the $25 million Phase I should deliver the aquatics center, the cycling center and the ice-sports center, as well as the family-entertainment and sports medicine units.
In 2002, Burton attended the Olympic Games in Salt Lake City, Utah, and was inspired by the gold- and silver-medal performances of speed skater Apolo Anton Ohno. He returned to Chesterfield and started a local short-track speed-skating club that uses local ice rinks. Speaking to Richmond magazine for a 2007 feature about the club, Burton then had plans to create a $14-million sports facility for skating and cycling. But his vision broadened.
Until late January, Burton was the CEO of a healthcare company, but he resigned to focus full-time on SportsQuest. In the meantime, he is also championing the development of the local program that holds claim to training some of the top skaters at early February's ISU World Cup short-track speed-skating event in Bulgaria; 24-year-old Jordan Malone, who has spent time training with the local club, took a silver medal in the men's 1,000-meter event while 23-year-old Kimberly Derrick finished fourth in the women's 1,000-meter event. Both Derrick and Malone are part of the U.S. Speedskating short-track training team, which coaches Olympic-bound athletes.
Since 2007, Burton has attracted some of world's top coaches in speed skating to run the high-performance programs that will be a part of SportsQuest. In August 2007, coach Sun-The Chea came to Richmond from South Korea to oversee the skating program. Last summer, Scott Koons left an administrative position U.S. Speedskating in Salt Lake City to join Virginia Speedskating as its head coach and director of high-performance programs.
"We are in go mode," Burton says, later adding, "And things are moving pretty fast."
ISU World Cup short track speed skating event in Sofia, Bulgaria
Kimberly Derrick finished fourth in the 1000m
Jordan Malone earning a second-place finish in the second 1,000m event.