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Ribbon cut on Sports Force Parks on the Mississippi

Teams may have been competing for trophies and rankings since Presidents Day, but Sport Force Parks on the Mississippi had never truly opened until Thursday.

Before a crowd numbering well more than 100 people, public officials, representatives from the city of Vicksburg, The Sports Force and a handful of children cut a red ribbon to open the park to the public — officially.

“I can still hear the voice for Rowdy Nosser in my ear saying, ‘Do it,’” Mayor George Flaggs Jr. said. “I still hear the voice of George Smith saying, ‘You’re out.’ I still hear the voice of (former South Ward Alderman) Sidney Beauman saying, ‘If you’re going to build a sports complex, build it on land you already own.’”

Flaggs added city officials and residents needed to thank the people “who had the vision and the foresight to say to us to do this, and certainly to the voters. They said at the ballot box, ‘Yes, two cents on hotel and restaurant is worth every penny for the investment in our children.’

“Today, and this day going forward, is bigger than recreation, it’s bigger than sports … this is the beginning of growth and economic development in this city.”

South Ward Alderman Alex Monsour said the complex “was a long time coming.”

He called the sports complex “second to none; we have received compliment after compliment. It is a fantastic facility.”

“We’re going to have something that’s going to be a game-changer,” Monsour said.

North Ward Alderman Michael Mayfield, who came on the board just after the property was bought, said, “I’m proud that it’s here. I’m proud that we put the time and effort in, and I have no doubt that it will turnout to be something good for Vicksburg and Warren County.”

The park opened for competition the weekend of Presidents Day in February. Since then, Sports Force president and CEO Brian Storm said the park has had 43,000 visitors, and 431 tournament teams from across the South have competed in more than 1,500 games.

The number, he said, included high school and college games and games involving Vicksburg Soccer Association teams and Vicksburg Athletic Association teams.

“This park is your park,” he said.

Sports Force Parks on the Mississippi was built under a plan where The Sports Force leased the site for the sports complex on Fisher Ferry Road from the city to build the facility and then lease it back to the city, which pays rent to The Sports Force to let the company to recover its costs for designing and construction.

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

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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