Gulfport Sportsplex Eyed For Future Development

The Gulfport sportsplex hosts teams and tournaments from around South Mississippi and across the country. The family oriented location may soon include much more than sports fields and facilities.

"When they're coming here for tournaments, they would like to have a place to stay. The shopping, the restaurants would certainly be wonderful. When they're here for tournaments we're at capacity in the hotels along 49. So it's certainly something that's needed. I'm very enthusiastic about it," said Barbara Nalley, who represents Ward 7.

She's enthusiastic about planners who've suggested building a "city center" at the sportsplex site. Such a development could include a mix of retail, restaurants, hotels and even city services.

The operators of Gulf Islands Water Park are equally excited. More amenities mean more water slide customers.

"In addition, it adds to the quality of life for the residents of Gulfport and the Mississippi Gulf Coast. So, you know, it's just another layer upon the sportsplex that we can feed off of, absolutely," said Glen Hagerty with Gulf Islands Water Park.

The assistant director of Leisure Services for the city says the possible addition of hotels, restaurants and retail would create a real synergy for the sports complex. David D'Aquila says such a development could help the city attract even more teams and tournaments to the facility.

"We're certainly in favor of more activity in our area, yes," said  Alan Simmons.

His sporting goods store draws plenty of customers from teams that use the sportsplex.

"Certainly we're in favor of it, you know. It would benefit us greatly. I would be concerned about the traffic. There are some traffic concerns trying to get in here," said Simmons.

That issue is being considered by planners. M-DOT and the county are looking to improve the Canal Road entrance to the sportsplex, while the city plans to upgrade the Landon Road-Highway 49 exchange.