TRURO - The reactions of first time visitors to the Cougar Dome are almost always the same.
Walking through the revolving door and into the $2.2-million dome rarely fails to impress with its 50,000 square feet of space, six tennis courts, a three-lane synthetic running track and 16,000 square feet of artificial turf.
"It's a shock to see how big it is," manager Tanya Colburne said. "The most common thing we hear is ‘I had no idea looking from the outside this is what you could expect on the inside.'"
Colburne hopes many more Colchester County residents get that experience Saturday as the Cougar Dome holds its official Grand Opening celebration from 2 to 4 p.m. Everyone is welcome but is asked to bring indoor footwear.
The afternoon will feature a ribbon cutting, open tours of the North Street building, and refreshments from Subway. There will also be stations set up throughout the building where visitors can try several sports the dome offers with pros on hand to offer tips. The afternoon will also feature several prize draws.
"So come check it out. There is something here for all ages and all abilities," said Scott Annand, who came up with the idea for the building and spearheaded its formation.
The indoor athletic complex It also includes track and field jumping pits and a 12-bay golf range. The artificial turf can also be moved or increased in size.
Thus far its been a popular spot for Cobequid Cougars athletic teams as well as tennis and golf enthusiasts. The CC Riders have also been regular users as its soccer players go through winter training.
It's been a long road to get to this point. Annand first came up with the idea for the building in December 2010, when Truro residents Jamie Bagnell and his wife Nicole made a $500,000 donation to CEC athletics.
"And it just grew from there," Annand said.
Since then Annand and the Cobequid Society for Athletic Excellence raised the rest through donations from businesses, families and several government channels.
The building opened to user groups on Jan. 2 and opened to the public later in the month. It was finally completed just a few weeks ago with the finishing of the clubhouse and Atlantic Canada's first Subway Café.
"It's been a journey to say the least," Annand said. "But if it wasn't for a lot of people, we wouldn't be here celebrating this incredible facility for Colchester County."
Annand said the building, which is held up only by air, has exceeded even his expectations.
"To think that everything we've been working so hard for, the committee, the donors to see it come to fruition, to see people go through here being active, it's truly beyond what I imagined," he said.
On Twitter: @tdnmatt