New sports complex opens, promises to be ‘game changer’ for city

Published 7:41 am Sunday, February 17, 2019

The landscaping is still underway and there are some post construction blemishes to address, but Sports Force Parks on the Mississippi opened its gates at 9 a.m. Saturday to host a softball tournament and welcome the public.

“We will be open from 9 a.m. to 6 p.m. Saturday and Sunday, and tentatively from 9 to 6 next weekend,” Sports Force regional manager Will Spence said. “Admission will be free both weekends. We want the public to come out and see the facility.”

Spence’s announcement came during a walk through of the sports complex by a group of city officials.

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But while the workers continue their labors on the final touches, the complex’s amenities are ready to serve the visitors who will descend on the park during the weekend.

And while the park’s decor may not be fully complete, the fields are ready for competition, Spence said as he took the officials around the 75-acre complex, which includes three fields named in memory of Vicksburg residents George Smith, Rowdy Nosser and former South Ward Alderman Sid Beauman.

The park also features a playground area, miniature golf and a 300-foot zip line.

“I’m really pleased with it (but) it’s got a little ways to go,” South Ward Alderman Alex Monsour said. “I think they’ve done a fantastic job here; they’ve got the miniature golf and the zip line. The fields are fantastic. It’s free this weekend and people need to come out and bring their kids and see this.”

Monsour recalled being in the Legislature when the special bill allowing the 2 percent tax passed to help pay for the $22.5 million facility.

“The people here trusted us, we passed it out, they voted on it, and I think they’ll be pleased with what’s happened here. It’s one-of-a-kind in Mississippi and in the Southeast.”

“Everything out here is beautiful, just like we expected it to be,” city recreation director Joe Graves said. “Everybody who comes out here is going to be extremely impressed with the facility.”

Omar Nelson, who chaired the recreation committee that led to the park’s development, said the park “will be a game changer for the city of Vicksburg and the state of Mississippi. We anticipated that once the sports complex hit the ground, it would revolutionize sports here. It’s absolutely amazing.”