Groundbreaking held for sports complex

Published 7:07 pm Tuesday, June 19, 2018

A moment 15 years in the making came to fruition Tuesday morning when representatives from the city of Vicksburg and Sports Force came together to officially break ground on the new sports complex in Vicksburg.

The complex will be built on land off Fisher Ferry Road the city originally purchased in 2003 with the intent of building a sports park.

The project has hit roadblocks over the years, but officially started Tuesday with plans to open the park in February.

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“I wish I could take credit for this day. Thank you for the introduction of it, but I can’t. All I did as I say in politics, and I’ve said it for years, I didn’t birth this baby. I just rocked this baby,” Mayor George Flaggs Jr. said. “We are standing on this ground because of the vision of some folks — Gertrude Young, Michael Mayfield and Joe Loviza who had something to do with the purchase of this land and the late Sid Beauman.”

The project will cost $26 million and be funded through a 2 percent sales tax on restaurant food and beverage sales and hotel room rentals passed last June.

The new complex, which will be called Sports Force Parks on the Mississippi, is being designed and built and then will be managed by Sports Force, a subsidiary of Sports Field Inc. from Canton, Georgia.

“We are excited to be here. You see what is going on here today and in seven and a half months you will see a sports park here. Soon baseball, softball, soccer, football and many more sports of all types are going to be played at this park,” Brian Storm, president of Sports Fields Inc., said.

An access road has been cut to the complex off Fisher Ferry Road and the site has been cleared as Sports Force begins a project they hope to have completed in seven months. The project calls for one full-size soccer/lacrosse field, one feature baseball/softball field, three full-size baseball multi-use fields, three youth baseball multi-use fields and one ADA-accessible adaptive use field for people with special needs.

Storm announced Tuesday that as part of the project they will be starting a Force All-stars group at the complex, which provides opportunities for children and adults with special needs and partnering with the Cal Ripken Sr. Foundation to create opportunities for underserved communities.

“We are going to build it in seven months and that is picking it up and putting it down in a lot of places,” Storm said. “We want to pray for rain, but just enough rain for farmers and not too much rain for park builders. Kids are going to come here and they are going to learn life lessons. They are going to learn about perseverance, hard work, working on a team, the thrill of winning and the heartbreak of losing.”

During Tuesday’s groundbreaking ceremony, Flaggs announced that the three championship fields at the complex will be named for former South Ward Alderman and city recreation director Sid Beauman, business owner and community advocate Rowdy Nosser and long-time referee and umpire George Smith, all of whom are deceased and whose families helped break ground Tuesday.

“Knowing how much he put into this, thought about it and pushed for it, I am just filled with pride and it means the world,” Regan Nosser, Rowdy’s son, said. “I think he probably would shed some tears, his heart would fill and I just can’t even imagine. He was just such a fun loving guy and always wanted the best for Vicksburg, it would mean the world to him.”

Of the naming the fields after the three community and sports advocates, Flaggs said, “It meant more than I could ever say to be able to recognize those three guys and the way they encouraged and what they meant to this community. These three guys are the epitome of what leadership is all about.”