Biloxi's Kroc Center features water park, fitness center, stadium - WLOX.com - The News for South Mississippi

Biloxi's Kroc Center features water park, fitness center, stadium

BILOXI, MS (WLOX) -

By Trang Pham-Bui – bio | email

BILOXI, MS (WLOX) – Crews are tearing up the parking lot at the old Yankie Stadium in east Biloxi.  All the asphalt should be gone by this weekend.

"We're no longer talking about it, it's actually happening," said Major Alan Hill, The Salvation Army Gulf Coast Area Commander.

What will go up on the site is a 52,000 square foot Salvation Army Ray and Joan Kroc Corps Community Center.

"I don't think this community has had anything to this scale," said Hill.

The complex has facilities for the entire family, including a full-size gymnasium, dance and aerobics studio, and weight and fitness rooms with all sorts of cardio and exercise equipment. 

One of the highlights is an indoor natatorium. You can move through the Lazy River, go down a two-story water slide, run around the splash pad, or work out in the exercise pool.

"I don't think there's any place here that has an indoor aquatic center," said Hill.

For the community, there's a dining hall and kitchen, computer training center with wireless access, a childcare facility, and plenty of space for meetings, art and music exhibits.

A chapel provides a place of worship.  It can be converted into a performing arts center.

"I think this is something everybody will want to come see," said Hill.  "I imagine people will be back time and time again, because the fees will be reasonable."

And Yankie Stadium will continue its tradition of offering outdoor recreation. The bleachers, field, and walking track will stay.  Future upgrades to the stadium are being planned.

"The city of Biloxi has had this for a long time and we wanted to continue that history," said Hill.

The vision started eight years ago, when Joan Kroc, the widow of McDonald's founder Ray Kroc, donated the initial $2 million for the project.  It has now grown into a $48 million dream destination.

"It means opportunity for everyone," said Hill.  "It's not only low income, but middle income, all folks from all walks of life will be able to walk in and enjoy this facility."

Part of the $48 million gift from the Kroc family and the Salvation Army's headquarters is being used to establish an endowment to operate the center. The building should be finished by May of 2011.

Copyright 2010 WLOX. All rights reserved.

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