Facility Profile - May 2020
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inPRACTICE / SPORTS LIGHTING

Light It Up
>> Sports Force Parks // Vicksburg, Miss.

By Deborah Vence


Sports Force Parks on the Mississippi, a multi-use sports facility in Vicksburg, Miss., has everything you can think of in one location.

"Sports Force Parks was started with the goal of creating sports parks of distinction and delivering on our core principles of Sports. Family. Fun. In our mind, a sports park of distinction provides professional-level playing fields, on-site entertainment and recreational amenities, and works hand-in-hand with community partners to provide a great family vacation experience," said Patrick Farno, corporate development manager, Sports Force Parks on the Mississippi.

"Creating a multi-use sports park specifically is important in order to maximize the flexibility and programming possible at the complex. One weekend we are capable of hosting a baseball tournament, followed by a week of youth soccer practices and games, leading right back into a softball tournament the next weekend," he said.

When it comes to some of the main features, Sports Force Parks on the Mississippi features eight multipurpose fields that can support up to 10 baseball/softball diamonds or seven full-size soccer fields (or 20-plus youth fields). The park features LED sports lighting, electronic scoreboards, dugouts and covered spectator seating.

"Beyond the fields," Farno said, "Sports Force Parks on the Mississippi offers the Fly Wire Zip Line, Bridge City Mini-Golf, Steamboat Playground and Sports Force Express—a full train that runs throughout the park for kids and adults! All of these entertainment attractions are included in the admission price for tournaments, creating a fun and affordable weekend for the whole family, not just the players."

The LED lights that illuminate the sports park are manufactured by Ephesus, a manufacturing company whose plant is located in Vicksburg.

"This was the first park in which Ephesus product was used in a Sports Force park. It was very important to Eaton/Ephesus employees of Vicksburg that Ephesus product was used in this new park due to it being so close to the Vicksburg plant and which many of our employees will visit," said Jeff Ward, director of operations, outdoor and sports lighting, Eaton.

Though Ward didn't know the exact amount of money saved with the LED lights, he said that "typically, converting over to LED lights generally saves about 40% in cost. The other more noticeable benefit to LED is the smart controls, and quality of light (less flicker) needed for high-definition video production at fast-paced sporting events.

"Our All Field product (more than 700 fixtures) [was] used [on] all the fields. Our Arbors were used to light the walkways and Navion/Archeon's were used to light the parking lot," Ward added.

The project, which cost approximately $24.5 million to build, is "a game changer for the local community in a variety of respects," Farno said.

"Most obviously, there is a tremendous economic impact associated with sports tourism that will have a tremendous effect on local business and new development," he added. "During our first tournament as part of the soft opening, local restaurants indicated they saw a 30% year-over-year increase in sales from the same weekend in 2018. Thousands of new visitors are coming to Vicksburg each week, eating in local restaurants, staying in hotels and shopping in area stores.

"Beyond the economic impact, however, the park is already having a huge impact on local youth sports leagues, travel teams, high schools and colleges," he said.

"The local soccer and baseball organizations have moved their practices and leagues to the park, using the fields Monday through Thursday and eliminating the weather concerns in the spring. Area high schools have regularly used the park when their home fields have been rained out," he added. "Colleges from the region have also used the complex as a central location for traveling games and to support weather cancellations. In just the first two months, it has already become a critical part of the Vicksburg community." RM



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