Baseball complex can be economic boost for areaPublished 11:08pm Saturday, May 10, 2014
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A cost estimate is in for the county’s proposed new youth baseball fields, and it’s only $10 a year in property taxes on a home appraised at $100,000.
For much less than the cost of lunch out at a fast-food restaurant for a family of four, that same family can enjoy the benefits of a state-of-the-art baseball complex right next to the county’s existing Hansel King Sports Complex. The addition of the five-baseball facility to the current softball and tee-ball complex would give busy local families one-stop shopping when it comes to spring and summer youth sports activities.
The new and existing facilities also would be close to the Lincoln Civic Center, making it possible to stage dual-function events like a baseball and softball tournament in conjunction with something like the Mississippi Spring Fest and Fair.
While much reaction to the proposed new sports complex has been positive, some naysayers have argued that the county already has baseball fields. While it’s true that Dixie Youth League play is currently ongoing at Keystone Park, that two-field complex is located, unfortunately, in the old industrial park.
Currently, industrial prospects are looking at that property, and the aging Keystone ballpark, which is outdated with deteriorating facilities, would serve the county much better as a future industrial site.
“There’s the possibility the Keystone facility may have to come to an end with industrial development,” agreed Board of Supervisors President and District Four Supervisor Eddie Brown on Monday.
Instead of gradually deteriorating and becoming less and less serviceable for youth sports, the Keystone property could instead be the site of a new plant that would bring jobs to Lincoln Countians, while youth baseball moves to a new, tournament-quality facility in a much more accessible location.
On Monday, Ryan Holmes with Dungan Engineering presented a cost analysis for the new, five-field complex to the board of supervisors. He estimated construction costs at $2.5 million, plus upfront equipment costs of $100,000 and administrative, engineering and legal costs of $150,000. He also projected annual operating costs at $147,500.
Using a $3-million bond issue with a 20-year-term and annual payments of $200,000 as an example for financing the facility, Holmes estimated the cost to taxpayers as $10 more per $100,000 in appraised value on a homesteaded property and $15 more per $100,000 for non-homesteaded property.
With the cost outlined and a proposal for financing the facility now on the table, the ball, as they say, is in the board of supervisors’ court. The county officials took the matter under advisement Monday in order to review the matter and receive citizen input.
So, what do you think, Lincoln Countians? We invite your comments on The Daily Leader’s Facebook page or via letters to the editor, which can be sent to firstname.lastname@example.org or mailed to Editor, The Daily Leader, P.O. Box 551, Brookhaven, MS 39602-0551.
But first, we’d like to point out that youth baseball and softball are not only fun and character building for kids, they also are great for business. On any area tournament weekend, if you go out to eat, you’ll notice local restaurants and fast-food outlets are busier than usual. That level of activity also will
be matched by booked rooms at local hotels, thanks to the influx of hundreds of softball players, coaches, families and fans.
Just one softball tournament last summer drew 56 teams, each averaging 12 players. That’s around 600 players alone. Add in two or three coaches per team, plus two or more family members and friends per player, and you have a significant number of visitors in town. Those visitors also spend money in town eating out buying snacks and gasoline, etc., which pumps sales tax dollars into our community.
Yes, building this new “field of dreams” will cost money, but in the long run, it will pay for itself many times over as it boosts our economy.
And the benefit to our youth, both now and for many years to come, is priceless.