Top 10 stories of the year: Sports Force Parks become reality

Published 3:36 pm Tuesday, December 25, 2018

Vicksburg’s proposed sports complex became reality in June as groundbreaking ceremonies signaled the start of work on Sports Force Parks on the Mississippi, located off Fisher Ferry Road.

“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 before company representatives and local officials turned the traditional shovels full of dirt.

Fast forward to December, and the facility designed and being built by Sports Force, a subsidiary of Sports Field Inc. of Canton, Georgia, which will also manage the $22 million park, is taking shape.

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

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

Turf is on all the fields, and grass is 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.

With the exception of the natural grass field, all the fields, Zeis said, are synthetic turf.

Field 8, he said, is an adaptable field that will be used by special needs children and adults.

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.

Work on the park’s three buildings — the clubhouse, concession stand and gift shop — continues, and more concrete is being poured.

According to the park’s Facebook page, two tournaments are set for February — the President’s Day Classic and an opening day tournament.

A softball tournament, The Border War Softball Tournament, is set for March.

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, building the facility and leasing 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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