• 88°

Sports Force: First year provided $12.4M economic impact

Since opening in February, Sports Force Parks on the Mississippi has had a $12.4 million economic impact on Vicksburg.

“Our new sports complex has seen 135,000 visitors and brought $12.4 million to Vicksburg — our local economy in less than a year. That is phenomenal,” Mayor George Flaggs Jr. said as he announced the number at Tuesday’s meeting of the Board of Mayor and Aldermen. “I still contend that Vicksburg is on its way and you ain’t seen nothing yet.

“We’ve got to exceed our expectations for next year and continue this phenomenal growth for the city of Vicksburg. We can do it. I think we’re going to do it.”

The economic impact figure was part of the company’s annual report submitted to the city.

Built on 75 acres of the city’s Fisher Ferry Road property, Sports Force Parks on the Mississippi opened in mid-February with a softball tournament and has continued hosting baseball, softball and soccer tournaments.

According to the report, 785 teams participated in events at the park between March and November, exceeding parent company Sports Force’s projected goal of 600 teams per year.

“Baseball was by far the most successful sport in our first year, with softball and soccer trailing behind,” according to the report, which indicated that fall had the lowest number of teams playing at the complex. Spring had the most activity with 431 teams, with 202 in the summer.

According to the report, families traveling to the park for events averaged 3.28 people who spent an average of $97.96 per person per day. A graph accompanying the report’s economic impact indicated food and beverage sales accounted for 37.8 percent of the money spent by visitors, and 22 percent was spent on entertainment.

About 17 percent was spent on hotel rooms.

South Ward Alderman Alex Monsour said Sports Force Parks on the Mississippi “is a proven entity now.”

Monsour said he met with Sports Force representative Will Spence after the board meeting about the complex.

“They’re in the midst of making it a destination and helping us do that,” Monsour said. “There’s more to come. We just have to move into the future and continue to expand that facility and enhance it.

“Overall, we’re enthused and pleased with the overall outcome in its first year.”

Looking at the park’s plans for 2020, the report indicates plans to build two fields —4 and 9 — which were not built during the complex’s initial construction. Both fields are planned to be completed to ease capacity problems during baseball and softball tournaments.

Originally planned as a multi-purpose youth synthetic turf field, Field 4 was kept as a natural turf field during construction.

“Completing the build out will allow the facility to maximize peak seasons and provide additional field space for local use,” the company said in its report.

Building Field 9 will provide a field that can be used for age group 6-to-8 years and older and accommodate other events.

The report also discusses adding lights to fields 3, 5 and 8, which presently can only be used during daylight hours.

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.

email author More by John