Sports Force Parks on the Mississippi proving Vicksburg voters right

Published 8:49 am Tuesday, February 18, 2020

For anyone who has been at Sports Force Parks on the Mississippi lately — and based on how full the parking lot has been lately, we assume that is most everyone — you have noticed just how much of a player this facility is becoming to Vicksburg’s economy.

This past weekend, the facility hosted college softball teams from as far away as Illinois, high school baseball teams from throughout central Mississippi, youth soccer teams, youth baseball teams and high school softball scrimmages for teams from Warren Central, Vicksburg, Florence and Clinton.

And this might have been considered a slow weekend by some.

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Last weekend marked the one year anniversary of the facility hosting its first tournament. In that year, the park — which battled through managerial growing pains — showed just what its potential to Vicksburg could be as it played host to more than 135,000 visitors. It also had a reported $12.4 million impact on Vicksburg’s economy in its first year.

And according to a report filed with the city of Vicksburg in early February, the park’s second year is looking even better.

“As of today, we are 450 percent ahead of pace from this time last year,” the company said in a pre-season report to the city. “It speaks volumes to the quality of the facility, and teams’ experiences last year when they participated.”

The company said one of the trends it is most excited about is the increase in the number of teams who are traveling to the facility from more than two hours away.

“Of the teams registered, 73 of them are outside of the two-hour drive time to Vicksburg,” the company said.

Not only does this increase in interest and business speak volumes for the quality of a facility Sports Force is – and could even become with needed expansion — but speaks volumes for the leap of faith voters in the city of Vicksburg took when approving the complex during the municipal election in 2017.

It also speaks to the hospitality and amenities teams enjoy when they come to Vicksburg. It speaks to the customer service, the restaurants and the places for teams to both stay and play.

And given the recent wet weather the region has experienced so far this year, the all-weather turf fields featured at the complex, along with its own amenities, it is becoming more of a draw than many thought.

When the economic figures from Sports Force Parks on the Mississippi were announced in December, Mayor George Flaggs Jr. said, “I still contend that Vicksburg is on its way and you ain’t seen nothing yet.” He may not have realized just how right he was.