Former NBA player Ralph Sampson was just as excited as the hundreds of children and their families to be at the Horizons Edge Sports Campus grand opening Saturday.

“I saw this start from nothing and turn to something, and it’s been fun to watch this building grow and now see all these families here and excited to have this available to their kids,” Sampson said of the 90,000-square-foot building.

Horizons Edge, located at 325 Cornerstone Lane north of Harrisonburg, has indoor and outdoor soccer fields, a gym that can hold four basketball courts and six volleyball courts, rock climbing walls and a number of spaces for special events.

The sports complex has “no school day programs,” where kids can come and spend from 8:30 a.m. to 5:30 p.m. enjoying group activities and sports. There is a “parents’ night out” program, which occurs on the first Friday each month from 6 to 9 p.m. for children ages 6 to 12 years old.

The sports campus will also hold birthday parties and day and overnight summer camps from June through the beginning of August. The camps are for basketball, soccer and volleyball.

“I am going to support this facility with myself and my time and my basketball world,” Sampson said Saturday after playing basketball with a group of kids.

Sampson, a Harrisonburg High School alumnus, said that for him to come back to Harrisonburg and be a part of the sports complex and all it has to offer has been the icing on the cake.

“When I was younger, we had a rec place outdoors so it’s nice to have a place indoors that is a safe place for kids to get active,” he said. “These kids need a safe place to go after school to burn off some energy instead of just going home and playing video games. This place is going to help so many kids for the better, and I’m excited to be a part of that.”

Casi Zirk, a Rockingham County resident who lives two minutes from Horizons Edge, said she is blessed to have such a nice complex in the area for her two sons to come to.

“I never ever thought we would have this type of facility available for the city and county residents,” Zirk said. “The fact that there is this nice turf field for kids to play soccer and that climbing wall is just beyond impressive.”

She said her son Levi, 12, has already played a basketball tournament in the gym.

Although the grand opening was Saturday, Horizons Edge had opened its doors prior to host tournaments and basketball games.

“I can definitely see having parties here and just coming here all the time,” she said. “I am just so impressed with this place and never imagined it could be this nice.”

Sarah Hanley took her 3-year-old son, Richard, to the grand opening and by the time she left, she was more impressed than when she had first showed up.

“Growing up, if I wanted to go to the batting cages or play soccer, I’d have to do it all outside. Now with Horizons Edge, kids can do those things inside,” Hanley said.

Walking into the sports campus, the first thing she saw was the vibrant color and the big rock wall.

“It’s welcoming, is so colorful and imaginative and it just makes you want to see more,” she said. “It’s more than I expected.”

Hanley said it’s nice to have something new and that tends to a wide range of ages and interests.

“We have playgrounds and some pools and outdoor soccer and baseball fields, but nothing like this. This is something we have needed for a long time and it’s just so amazing to have it,” she said. “I’m really looking forward to Richard being able to grow up playing here along with my little one on the way.”

Contact Laine Griffin at 574-6286 or Follow Laine on Twitter @laine_griffDNR

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