ROSEVILLE, Calif. – @the Grounds, which opened the Roebbelen Center on Feb. 13, 2020, with thousands of community leaders and the public celebrating the high-profile project, recently reached its one-year anniversary in a much-different environment.
The massive building, able to accommodate as many as 12 full-length basketball courts or 24 volleyball courts, was designed to attract major sports competitions, large meetings, trade shows, concerts, and other events to the region. But five weeks after the grand opening celebration of the 160,000-square-foot building, the state-ordered lockdown went into place to prevent the spread of the deadly virus.
Today, the Roebbelen Center and @the Grounds are helping meet the most critical demands of the community, including as an ongoing COVID-19 vaccine site that can immunize as many as 1,000 people per day at Jones Hall.
“It just reinforces how important @the Grounds is to our community,” said David Attaway, chief executive officer of Placer Valley Tourism and @the Grounds. “In a crisis, it has truly filled a need.”
The 61-acre campus–which includes an abundance of outdoor space and the renovated Johnson and Jones halls–served as a COVID-19 testing site in the early months of the outbreak and continues to hold occasional blood drives.
“It’s been an ideal location for efforts like our vaccination clinic due to its accessibility, layout, and location,” said Michael Romero, program manager for Placer County Health and Human Services. “The staff here have been wonderful. We couldn’t do this alone. Their support, planning, and commitment have made for a very
positive customer experience.”
After large events were canceled, @the Grounds staff started looking at retail shows that are allowed and could make the most of the $34 million Roebbelen Center, one of the largest meeting spaces in the Sacramento region and the state. Dozens of smaller retail shows, such as SacAnime and the Roseville Gun Show, could accommodate several hundred people at a time rather than the several thousand for sports tournaments or trade shows.
“We can safely do these events, it’s easy to make social distancing work,” Attaway said. “And organizers are happy to have a space where they can do their events.”
Other organizers have held outdoor events @the Grounds, including a cornhole tournament and the recent Jurassic Empire–a drive-thru experience with 60 life-size dinosaurs that sold out.
Attaway says he and his team are looking forward to when the Roebbelen Center can resume with larger events that draw thousands of people and generate millions of dollars every year.
“I’d love to see the return of basketball and volleyball tournaments,” said Attaway, adding the Roebbelen Center held three events– a basketball and two volleyball tournaments–before the COVID-19 lockdown.