TUPELO • City officials are moving forward with plans to replace the natural grass fields at several city ballparks with artificial turf in hopes to bring more sporting events to the area.
The Tupelo City Council on Tuesday night voted to award approximately $2.2 million to Stewart Environmental Construction for the landscaping and installation work associated with the turf.
Alex Farned, the director of the city’s Parks and Recreation department, told the Daily Journal sporting events had to be cancelled for more than 150 teams earlier this year because they were unable to use the natural grass fields during inclement weather.
“This is also going to help the city with attracting different events and baseball, softball,” Farned said. “It’s going to allow us to have bigger tournaments to draw from possibly out of state. At the end of the day, it’s also going to help with maintenance and staffing at tournaments. You don’t have near the upkeep you would have with natural conditions.”
The project will install artificial turf at nine fields at Ballard Park and four fields at Veterans Park.
Farned said Ballard Park already has three fields with artificial turf, so the new project will lead to a total of 12 fields at the park that have artificial turf.
After the installation of new artificial turn, Farned said there will still be some baseball fields and some tee ball fields that will not have artificial turf.
The money for the project is coming from the product development fund out of the Tupelo Convention and Visitors Bureau.
Neal McCoy, the director of the Convention and Visitors Bureau, told the Daily Journal this project would bring a lot of visitors to Tupelo and increase the amount of money that is spent in Tupelo when people come to the area for sporting events.
“We have had a long history of working with our Parks and Recreation department to provide funding for sports venues dating back to lights being put at the sportsplex so we can play the soccer tournament at night,” McCoy said.
The city previously had a contract with Sloan Landscape Architecture for designing the plans for installing the artificial turf.
Initial work for the project is set to begin at the end of the month, and the entire project is estimated to be completed by spring of 2020.