Progress continues on Sports Force Parks on the Mississippi

Published 7:00 pm Saturday, December 8, 2018

At Sports Force Parks on the Mississippi off Fisher Ferry Road, crews are preparing to lay turf on the final ball field and starting to begin landscaping and laying sidewalks as the deadline nears for the park’s February opening.

“We are still on track for February,” said project manager Tim Baskerville.

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Work on the estimated $22 million sports park began soon after ground breaking ceremonies in June.

By mid-September, crews were installing the 80-foot and 70-foot steel poles for LED field lights, and the three fields furthest from the park’s parking area — 5, 6 and 3 — were being prepared for the installation of artificial turf.

As of Thursday, a portion of the access road leading from Fisher Ferry Road to the park has been paved, and crews were beginning to plant trees along the shoulder. Turf is on all but three fields, and grass was growing on the park’s natural turf field, which will be used for soccer.

“All the field lights are installed; the only thing left is the walkway lights,” said Sports Force representative Randy Zeis. “Fields 5, 6, 7 and 3 are done. Fields 1, 2 and 8 are left to be done. Field 2 will be the last field we do.”

All the fields, Zeis said, are synthetic turf, adding one field in the rear will be natural grass. “We’re growing the grass on it now.”

Field 8, he said, is an adaptable field that will be used by special needs children and adults, while field 3 can be used for either soccer or baseball and can be split into two fields for junior baseball or softball of T-ball, or soccer by using a portable fence to divide the field.

“You can play two baseball games or softball games on fields 1, 2 or 3 at the same time using a portable fence,” Zeis said.

Buildings under construction

Meanwhile, the frames are going up for the three buildings that will be used as the concession stand, clubhouse and gift shop, preparations are underway to pour sidewalks, and some paving around the ball fields and a common area on the backside of the park near three of the fields have been poured. Double and triple batting cages are under construction and restrooms are being completed.

Also underway is construction for a zip line, playground area and a nine-hole miniature golf course.

The zip line is 280- to 300-foot long and located by the restroom near field 2, Baskerville said.

“The playground is formed and ready for the equipment to go in; once they (the equipment manufacturer) have finished fabrication in the next couple of weeks, that will go in,” Zeis said. “Miniature golf is expected to go in next week. That has all been pre-graded and laid out. So these amenities will begin real soon.”

Leasing agreement

The Sports Force Parks on the Mississippi is being built under a plan where The Sports Force is leasing 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 Sports Force and allow the company to recover its costs for designing and building the complex.

Money for the lease comes from the revenue raised by the special 2 percent tax on hotel room rentals and food and beverage sales approved by voters in 2017.

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 2017 presented plans for a proposed complex to the seven-member committee appointed by Flaggs to oversee the design and construction of the 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.

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