Sports Force to build, manage sports complex

Published 8:30 pm Friday, December 22, 2017

The Sports Force will build and manage Vicksburg’s proposed sports complex.

The Board of Mayor and Alderman Friday accepted the recommendation of the sports facility committee appointed to review proposals for the project. The board’s action clears the way to begin negotiations with the Canton, Ga., company. The Sports Force was the only company submitting a proposal. City attorney Nancy Thomas said the committee reviewed it Wednesday.

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“I’m honored to make this motion,” Mayor George Flaggs Jr. said. “It’s long time coming for the city of Vicksburg, but we’re on our way.”

The board Oct. 30 authorized city clerk Walter Osborne to advertise a request for proposals for companies interested in building and managing the complex.

According to the documents for the RFP, companies were required to provide their own financing for the estimated $20 million project, plan and design it, build it and manage and market the sports complex and its other attractions.

Under the city’s plan, The Sports Force will lease the site for the sports complex on Fisher Ferry Road from the city, build the facility and lease it back to the city, which will pay rent to the developer and allow it to recover its costs for designing and building the complex, which will have all synthetic turf-type fields.

Money for the lease will come from the revenue raised by the special 2 percent tax on hotel room rentals and food and beverage sales.

The board in 2016 hired The Sports Force to perform a feasibility study on the Fisher Ferry site to determine if the property was suitable for a sports complex.

The company in August presented plans for a proposed complex to the seven-member committee appointed by Flaggs to oversee the design and construction of the complex.

According to an artist’s rendering presented at the August meeting, the complex featured nine multiuse fields that can be used for soccer, baseball or softball; and championship fields for baseball, soccer and softball — all made of synthetic turf, as well as a splash pad, ropes course, walking track and other recreation activities, including a miniature golf course.

Once completed, the park will be the only one in the state with all artificial turf fields.

The design for the complex uses 75 acres of the 200-acre property and avoids any impact from flood-prone areas of the property. Under the plan, the fields could be transformed into 11 youth baseball or softball fields, 18 youth soccer fields or nine full size lacrosse or full-size soccer fields if needed for tournaments.

Aug. 14, a delegation of Vicksburg city officials toured The Sport Force’s Cedar Point Sports Center in Sandusky, Ohio, touring a multipurpose sports facility that is considered similar to the proposed complex for Vicksburg.

Besides the sports complex, the board is also considering building a bypass road from U.S. 61 South to Halls Ferry Road to relieve traffic on Halls Ferry. The estimated $10 million project also includes an access road to the sports complex.

The board received proposals Oct. 10 from four engineering firms to design and prepare specifications for the project, but no company has been selected.

About John Surratt

John Surratt is a graduate of Louisiana State University with a degree in general studies. He has worked as an editor, reporter and photographer for newspapers in Louisiana, Mississippi and Alabama. He has been a member of The Vicksburg Post staff since 2011 and covers city government. He and his wife attend St. Paul Catholic Church and he is a member of the Port City Kiwanis Club.

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