New sports complex goes from joke to reality

Published 7:50 am Thursday, June 21, 2018

They said it would never happen. For 20 years plans came and went, some more concrete than others, and sky-high dreams were crushed under the steel-toed boot of reality.

For a generation, Vicksburg’s youth sports complex was little more than a good idea. Finally, on Tuesday, it started to become more than that when officials and various dignitaries held a groundbreaking ceremony at the site off of Fisher Ferry Road.

The new facility will have baseball and soccer fields, a mini golf course and playgrounds. It will, hopefully, be everything everyone has ever wanted it to be and more. It will bring families and tourism and money to the city.

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There’s still a lot of work to be done to complete the project. Tuesday’s ceremony will be followed by months of construction before the complex — called Sports Force Parks on the Mississippi — hosts its first games next spring. Just getting here, however, feels like a turning point in a quest that has become a local punch line.

I think the first time the idea of a new sports complex was brought up was the early 2000s. I can recall writing, around 10 years ago, a long breakdown of how a dozen sports would be affected by it. There was the plan to rip apart and rebuild Halls Ferry Park that was scrapped because it’s built on a landfill. That one came with a huge fee to a management company that disappeared into the ether, as well.

At some point it entered “believe it when I see it territory,” as in I’ll believe the thing is real when people are actually playing games out there.

And now here we are, just a few months away from that happening. It’s sort of surreal.

Congratulations to Mayor George Flaggs and others in the City of Vicksburg’s government for finally pushing the project across the finish line. It could have easily been shelved or delayed again for more pressing needs, or ignored as an idea that had been tried and failed and that it was time to move on from.

Clearing land and putting up ballfields is hardly a triumph of the human spirit. It’s a construction project, and perhaps a vanity one at that. Locally, however, it feels like so much more. When the new sports complex is completed it will mean we can at last turn a page in our local history, mark an item off our to-do list, and start to look ahead to the next project.

Or maybe just take a day off and go watch a ballgame or go for a walk around the shiny new sports palace.

Ernest Bowker is the sports editor of The Vicksburg Post. He can be reached at

About Ernest Bowker

Ernest Bowker is The Vicksburg Post's sports editor. He has been a member of The Vicksburg Post's sports staff since 1998, making him one of the longest-tenured reporters in the paper's 140-year history. The New Jersey native is a graduate of LSU. In his career, he has won more than 50 awards from the Mississippi Press Association and Associated Press for his coverage of local sports in Vicksburg.

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