GULFPORT, MS (WLOX) - Gulfport's brand new $8.5 million sportsplex expansion is set to be officially dedicated Friday.
The city is holding a celebration for the opening of the sportsplex expansion on June 15 at 6 p.m.
Just about 18 months ago, the 250 acres next to the existing sportsplex were woods. Now, that's all changed. "This is just a state of the art complex, from the turf, to the LED lighting. This is something that will be a game changer for sports tourism in south Mississippi," said Jase Payne with Leisure Services for the city.
The city is banking on many of the facility's design features to attract even more ball tournaments to the area. Payne said those features include synthetic turf fields that are designed to drain.
"We can have an hour worth of rain. In south Mississippi it pours, as we all know. These fields will drain in about 15 minutes. So, for families coming from Florida, Louisiana, Texas, Alabama, they can come to Gulfport and know that they're going to get their games in and finish their championship games," said Payne.
According to Gus Wesson, director of Leisure services, these six fields are already gaining attention throughout the region. "It will allow us to bring in larger tournaments. We've already had large promoters begging to get on the fields," he said.
Officials are estimating that the expansion could bring in around 100,000 people for tournaments and other events.
Chris Vignes with the City of Gulfport says that leads to even more business. He said this is especially true, considering the complex has a water park virtually right in its parking lot.
"Families come in for these sports tournaments, then they realize there are more things to offer like the water park, the Premium Outlets, the beaches. All the great things that we have, that we know because we live here. These out of state guests are coming and now coming back for vacation," said Vignes.