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Idea for a new sports complex was long discussed, thankfully it is now a reality

Have you ever sat at a keyboard wondering what to type? Have you ever been afflicted with writer’s block, an ailment that prevents ideas from flowing from your mind, to your fingers, onto a keyboard and then to your computer screen?

On more than one occasion this has happened to this newspaper’s editorial board, the brave few who each day discuss what would become of the newspaper’s opinion for the next edition.

For us, the solution to such an ailment as writer’s block has been what many of you over the years must have thought was an unhealthy obsession with the idea of a new sports complex.

In just a brief review of editorials and columns written over the past four years is no less than a dozen — and more — of those focused on the idea, the development of, the election of and construction of the new sports complex that Thursday became an reality with the ribbon cutting.

While games and events have been hosted at Sports Force Parks on the Mississippi since February, the official opening was delayed due to construction and weather to Thursday. And for a good portion of our community, the opening of the park puts to rest one of those “pie in the sky” ideas that had been discussed in Vicksburg for nearly a generation.

And in those opinion pieces we compiled, most were in support of the idea. We believed in the economic impact forecasts that showed how a completed, multi-use sports facility would help local businesses, specifically restaurants, convenience stores and hotels.

In December 2015 we wrote, “We have long endorsed the idea of expanded and improved facilities in Vicksburg. We have endorsed the public-private partnership needed to make the facility financially feasible and a good use of tax dollars.”

In January 2017, we said the following, “Sports complexes like the one planned — with nine multi-use fields that can be used for soccer, baseball or softball; championship fields for baseball, soccer and softball, all made of synthetic turf, as well as a splash pad, ropes course, walking track and other recreation activities — are economic drivers for a town.”

And since the park has opened in February, we have seen the impact just these few months have had on local businesses, especially those on the Halls Ferry exit and Pemberton Boulevard corridor.

While we did not agree with the site selected, believing such a location would create traffic issues through the Fisher Ferry area, we have been pleased to see the installation of a traffic signal at the park and the ongoing hope and prayer of a connecting road between Fisher Ferry Road and U.S. 61 South, located near the park.

In more than one editorial we have taken a stance that was unpopular with the readers or those we have written about. We have made endorsements in political races that we would like to do over again, and given opinions that proved to be flat out wrong.

In this case, we were glad we were on the right side of the issue.

In an editorial written in October 2017, we quoted Mayor George Flaggs Jr. saying, “ “This is one of the game changers for this city; getting the sports complex.” We then went on to write, “We have in the past supported the concept of a sports complex for Vicksburg, and we hope the completed facility becomes the game changer the mayor expects.”

Now, with the park open, the ribbon cut and hundreds of games already played, we can say the mayor was right, the Board of Mayor and Aldermen were right in pushing the plan, the voters were right in approving the tax plan and … thankfully … we were right in giving it our support.

The Sports Force Parks on the Mississippi is not just going to be a game-changer for Vicksburg and Warren County, it already is.