After $4.5 million renovation, Expo Hall will be indoor sports venue

CONVERSION PLANNED: The City of Shreveport is preparing to reconfigure Expo Hall into a multi-sport indoor public use facility. 

By TONY TAGLAVORE, Journal Sports

A “new” multi-sports venue is coming to Shreveport.

The Journal has learned that Expo Hall, located downtown and built in 1978, will be repurposed to host events such as basketball, volleyball, and pickleball tournaments. City officials hope the facility will generate tax dollars from out-of-towners, as well as bring in rental money from locals wanting to use the facility.

“I think it makes us really competitive for these types of events that go to other communities,” said Shelly Ragle, Director of Shreveport Public Assembly and Recreation (SPAR). “Ruston just recently opened a sports complex. They spent, I think, $30 million — something crazy — on it. This gives us an opportunity in that amateur sports market to bring in more events, which means more money for our city.”

Construction is expected to start within 10-15 days, at a cost to the city of approximately $4.5 million dollars. Work by DBI Construction, headquartered in Bossier City, is expected to take 12-18 months.

“It’s going to be a really nice facility,” Ragle said.

The venue will accommodate as many as six basketball courts (four NCAA-regulation size and two middle school courts), and 15 pickleball stations. “It will have a center court, so you could do a tournament, then have one big, final game in the center,” Ragle said.

Until the Shreveport Convention Center opened in 2006, Expo Hall was the city’s main building for hosting large events. When the movie industry increased production in the Shreveport area, Expo Hall was turned into a soundstage. However, the building has been mostly vacant for approximately six years, briefly housing a downtown unit of the Shreveport Police Department.

“The city was trying to figure out what is the best use of this facility,” Ragle said.

Those discussions began prior to the pandemic, but slowed. Then came last year’s snow and ice.

“This building was affected by the winter storm,” Ragle said. “The heat was on really low. Our fire alarm system froze and busted. We had tons of damage. That set us back some more.”

In recent months, the project has moved forward. The Shreveport-Bossier Convention and Tourist Bureau paid for an engineering study. Also, a group of city and tourism officials visited other cities to see similar-type venues. Those officials were impressed with — and decided to model the facility after — The Duncanville Fieldhouse, in Duncanville, Texas.

“It will have all-new glass fronts, and just renovated so it can be used for anything done on hardwood,” Ragle said. “Tumbling, wrestling, cheerleading, drill team competitions. Anything you can do on a hard court, you can do on this.”

While tourism was a significant reason for turning Expo Hall into a multi-sports venue, consideration was also given to increasing the quality of life for locals.

“We’ll set it up where you can have birthday parties,” Ragle said. “The guys that might normally jog on the riverfront, they can rent a basketball court for the lunch hour. There are all kinds of things you can do.”

In addition to generating tax dollars and naming rights fees, Ragle hopes the venue will bring more people downtown.

“It anchors one end of the riverfront. This will make (the riverfront) alive and viable again. That’s important to our downtown. It’s important that when visitors come to downtown, they see, hopefully, a very attractive riverfront with a mixture of young and old people.”


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