BAY ST. LOUIS, MS (WLOX) - Bay St. Louis city leaders say post-Katrina improvements at its Sports Complex are paying big dividends through public satisfaction, as well as economically. Many say the substantial investment made was money well spent.
City leaders kicked off the Bay St. Louis Babe Ruth Baseball League's 2011 summer season Saturday with the throwing of the first pitch.
Nearly 500 little leaguers are participating this year. City leaders believe it's partly because of the recent upgrades made to the Municipal Sports Complex.
"We've spent well over a million dollars in the last year and a half to improve this park and the amenities that go with it," Bay St. Louis Mayor Les Fillingame.
The improvements included adding a new playground, replacing old fencing, bringing in shaded covered bleachers and converting old wooden pole lighting with concrete poles.
"Every field in town including our Bay High field which is right behind us here that had the concrete pole survived the winds of Katrina," Fillingame said. "That was the most expensive enhancement."
But it is far from the only enhancement.
"All of the pavilions and all of the pedestrian ways, the press boxes, the concession stands, the restrooms and just the landscapes. One of the things that you can't see, there was a significant drainage project put out here so that the fields drain properly," Fillingame said.
The upgrades are getting high marks from the people who use it and from visitors.
President of the Bay St. Louis Babe Ruth Baseball League Jay Trapani said, "It's just a better environment for the kids."
Bay St. Louis Resident Michelle Adamo said, "I can say that the park that we played for last year doesn't have nothing on this park. It's a lot nicer and very well kept up."
City leaders say an improved complex means the city can host more baseball tournaments here, and that they say means an economic boost to the local economy.
Future plans for the Sports Complex call for purchasing more land behind the facility, so two more baseball fields can be added to the seven existing fields for the girls softball program.