Sports complex takes step forward

Published 7:01 pm Sunday, January 28, 2018

Action Thursday by the Board of Mayor and Aldermen has cleared the way for officials with The Sports Force to begin the design of the proposed sports complex at Fisher Ferry Road.

The board Thursday approved a right of entry agreement with Sports Fields Inc. of Canton, Ga., parent company of The Sports Force. Under the terms of the agreement, Sports Fields will begin designing the complex once the agreement is signed by Mayor George Flaggs Jr.

“It’s a great day for Vicksburg,” Flaggs said after the vote.

Email newsletter signup

Sign up for The Vicksburg Post's free newsletters

Check which newsletters you would like to receive
  • Vicksburg News: Sent daily at 5 am
  • Vicksburg Sports: Sent daily at 10 am
  • Vicksburg Living: Sent on 15th of each month

In a related matter, the committee appointed to select an engineer to design the proposed U.S. 61 South /Halls Ferry bypass road that will also provide an access road to the sports complex is expected to recommend a company at the board’s Feb. 5 meeting.

City attorney Nancy Thomas said the right of entry was essential if Sports Fields was to begin the design of the complex.

“They need to get in and do their surveys and the topo (topography) and other studies before they can begin the design,” she said.

The Sports Force was the only company to submit a proposal to build the complex on city property on Fisher Ferry Road south of St. Michael Catholic Church.

Under the 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 will feature 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 preliminary design for the complex proposed using 75 acres of the 200-acre property and avoiding 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.

Four engineering firms in October submitted proposals to design and engineer a bypass road from U.S. 61 South to Halls Ferry Road, a project estimated to cost about $10 million.

The proposed road, which the city officials refer to as the “south loop road,” would link U.S. 61 South to Halls Ferry Road to help relieve traffic on Halls Ferry Road, and provide access to the proposed sports complex.

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.

email author More by John