Tournament proves idea of sports complex will work

Published 10:10 am Wednesday, April 12, 2017

Now that I look back on it, I should have worn a hat, or sunscreen at the very least.

Spending nearly 12 hours at the ballpark Saturday, on a beautiful spring day, without either a hat or a sunscreen, resulted in what I affectionately have called my “base burn.” In more specific terms, I fried like bacon.

The Betty Hearn Softball Complex at Bazinsky played host to the Battle of Vicksburg 12U softball tournament Saturday, a tournament organized by the Mississippi Blaze softball team, of which Sarah Cameron is a member.

A total of 10 teams from parts of Mississippi and Louisiana took part in the all-day tournament. In the end, a team from Kosciusko, the Diamond Divas, took home the title.

But while the Divas took home the trophy, it was Vicksburg that proved to be the winner.

As I stood at the park entrance for my shift Saturday, collecting money from those coming in, I saw plenty of fans and guests leaving for lunch and coming back with cups from local fast food eateries and other restaurants. I saw them coming in with bags from local stores and ice chests that were restocked at local convenience stores.

I was asked for directions to this store and that store, this restaurant and another.

While the concession stand was fully stocked, plenty of guests took advantage of plenty of culinary choices and quick stops near Bazinsky.

And, this was a relatively small tournament and it still attracted hundreds of visitors, enjoying a great Saturday in Vicksburg. Imagine what a larger tournament, with multiple age groups would have meant to the local economy.

The recreational sports business is a big business for many communities and it has in the past meant big things for Vicksburg. The city has hosted the Governor’s Cup, attracting youth baseball teams by the dozens and guests by the thousands.

Vicksburg is less than two months away from deciding on the future of a new sports complex. The construction of the massive facility would be paid for through a combination of lodging taxes and taxes on food and beverages.

The funding plan is to have those who visit Vicksburg to pay for the facility, rather than having those who live in Vicksburg bear the burden.

For those who would say such an investment is a fool’s errand, simply do not understand the economics involved and the impact such a facility could have on the quality of life in Vicksburg.

The Betty Hearn Softball Complex has seen significant improvements in recent months and more is needed. But a major investment of adding more fields, concession facilities and expanding to other youth sports, is simply not an option.

The new sports complex offers the size, the scope and the sporting options to have a big impact on Vicksburg.

It is time for Vicksburg to step up, vote and make reality something that has been talked about for a long time and needed even longer.

Tim Reeves is publisher of The Vicksburg Post. He can be reached at tim.reeves@vicksburgpost.com.

About Tim Reeves

Tim Reeves, and his wife Stephanie, are the parents of three children, Sarah Cameron, Clayton and Fin, who all attend school in the Vicksburg Warren School District. The family are members of First Baptist Church Vicksburg. Tim is involved in a number of civic and volunteer organizations including the United Way of West Central Mississippi and serves on the City of Vicksburg's Riverfront Redevelopment Committee.

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