GULFPORT, MS (WLOX) - A new baseball field is the latest sign of progress to come out of the Gulfport Sportsplex. Seven more will be installed within the next few weeks.
All the new fields will be made of synthetic turf, giving the space a greater advantage that it didn't have in the past.
"We had some cancellations last year with the historic amounts of rain that we had. We're going to play immediately, and so this synthetic turf guarantees us that there won't be many weather delays," said Jase Payne, Marketing Director for the City of Gulfport.
Turning Gulfport into a hub for sports tourism is the end goal. These fields could be a major factor in bringing teams to South Mississippi to play.
"Here, you have instant percolation. Promoters can know they can come here and get their games in. It's a big plus when you're in the tournament hosting business," said Rusty Ramage, the Sportsplex Manager.
Last year, the facility hosted 64 tournaments. So far, 86 tournaments are booked for 2018. More tournaments mean more money for the City of Gulfport and the Mississippi Gulf Coast.
"That's a tremendous impact to our city which will be roughly 16 million to 18 million dollars annually," explained Ramage.
Everything in the new site will be state-of-the-art. The dugouts will come equipped with fans and water fountains. Wheelchair ramps extend to the field, and stadium style bleachers will be added closer to the completion date.
"It just gives us the opportunity to reach a broad crowd, and we can't wait to get it open," said Gus Wesson, the Director of the Department of Leisure Services.
Wesson says the facility is in a prime location due to its close proximity to the interstate and nearby restaurants.
The remaining fields are set to be finished by March, and the entire expansion project will be completed by May just in time for the first tournaments in June.