Water Park Is Coming To Sportsplex

For awhile, Gulfport administrators wondered if a proposed water park would ever be built at the sportsplex. Those fears have been put to rest.

The first pieces of Gulf Islands Water Park were just dropped off at a sportsplex parking lot. And developers finally had the financing and the permits they needed to build their water theme park.

Developers now say the $9 million water park along I-10 should open next spring.

The Gulf Islands Water Park is supposed to bring 300,000 people a year through the sportsplex complex. Gulfport expects it to be successful, because of the baseball, softball and soccer teams that use the park each year.

On this fall day, the soccer fields had to look perfect. In a matter of hours, 600 players would be chasing soccer balls at their end of the season jamboree.

Rusty Ramage runs the Gulfport Sportsplex.

"Our vision of the complex, from a programming standpoint, we've exceeded those expectations," he said.

In 2003, a private company booked tournaments on these fields. This year, Gulfport took over those duties. And leisure services director George DeCoux had paperwork that indicated his agency did quite well.

"So it's really been a boon to us, and a real surprise." DeCoux said.

According to the leisure services director, the number of tournaments using the Gulfport Sportsplex in 2004 doubled, from 18 to 46. And the number of teams playing here tripled, from 424 to 1,373. And there are already indications that more tournaments (54) and more teams (1,900) will play here next year.

"To me, it's kind of a dream come true," DeCoux said, "not only from the big tournament promotion type viewpoint, but also from the local leagues playing in here from Monday through Thursday."

A box of trophies in the sportsplex office were for the local kids. They earned the awards this fall, while they played soccer at the Gulfport Sportsplex. According to the Gulfport Leisure Services report, the sportsplex had 90,000 local league players, and 80,000 tournament participants.