After 40 years of waiting, there was no way Perry Hall would settle for a rain delay.
Despite rain and biting cold, about 80 people attended a ceremony Saturday to mark the groundbreaking for the $3 million Soukup Arena, a new sports and recreation facility that community members have long anticipated — and even helped fund.
The arena, which will be located on a 30-acre property in the Honeygo area, is the culmination of more than 40 years of fundraising by the Perry Hall Recreation Council. In that time, the community organization raised half the cost — $1.5 million — while the county is matching the other $1.5 million.
"It's an excellent community project," said County Councilman David Marks, who represents Perry Hall.
Marks said Saturday's turnout for the ceremony near Chapel Hills Farm & Nursery, despite the foul weather, "just goes to show how important this is to the community."
The facility, and the park it will sit on, are named in honor of Jerry Soukup and his late wife, Pat, who were among the founding members of the recreation council back in 1955, and who led the effort in raising money for the arena.
The money was largely collected through concession stand sales, donations and other community initiatives.
"I feel like you do these things because you love your community," said Soukup, 86. "It's not about the fame or attention."
The Soukups moved to the area about 56 years ago, and raised three sons who live nearby. The idea for the facility came about when residents raised concerns about using local high schools, which are already overcrowded as the only spaces with gymnasiums available to the public.
Jerry Soukup said his wife, who passed away in late-February, would have been thrilled the community's hard work have paid off.
"She was a tremendous, tremendous woman," he said.
The arena will feature a 9,000-square foot all-purpose gym with basketball courts and batting cages, and an additional 3,000 square feet of meeting space. It is slated for completion in January 2015.
Bill Paulshock, a longtime resident and council volunteer who was heavily involved in the project, said naming the arena after the Soukups is well-deserved.
"They gave their lives to the Perry Hall community," he said.