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Sports Force Parks postpones tournament, stays open

Sports Force Parks on the Mississippi has postponed a travel baseball tournament this weekend because of concerns about coronavirus, but will remain open for public use for Vicksburg residents during the week.

Sports Fields, Inc., president and CEO Brian Storm said Wednesday that the Battle on the Border tournament scheduled for Saturday and Sunday has been postponed to a later date. A total of 60 teams from across the South were scheduled to participate.

Sports Fields, Inc., manages the Vicksburg complex and a sister facility in Sandusky, Ohio.

The sanctioning body USSSA ordered a halt to all tournaments under its umbrella on Wednesday, which Storm said led some teams to decide against playing this weekend.

“We had 60 teams coming and we reached out to them and said, given the circumstances and the fact USSSA has postponed sanctioned events, we asked what they would like to do? We tried to be customer-centric,” Storm said. “We are open Monday through Thursday for local play. We are continuing to monitor the situation for tournament play. We’re going to do what makes sense. We have taken an abundance of extra caution.”

Storm said some of those precautions included closing off bleachers and stationing employees in bathrooms to clean, “not just every hour, but moment to moment.”

Last week, the City of Vicksburg recommended limiting gatherings to no more than 250 people, among other measures, and closed its city parks. Sports Force Parks is a city property but is privately managed, which gave it some leeway under the guidelines.

Storm said balancing a number of guidelines from local, state and federal agencies related to containing coronavirus was a challenge.

“We had taken precautions following all the guidance that had been put out. We look at it as, we are an outdoor space. We can keep people apart. We closed the bleachers and put employees on permanent cleaning duty in the bathrooms,” Storm said.

Two tournaments, one baseball and one softball, are scheduled for SFP on March 28 and 29. Those have not yet been postponed. Storm said his company will take a week-to-week approach when deciding what actions to take.

Sports Force Parks has been a haven for high school and youth teams during a rainy spring. High school teams from as far away as Jackson have come there to play and practice. Storm was hopeful it would play a similar role in the area’s recovery from the coronavirus shutdown.

“Our outlook is bright, because we think youth sports will help lead us back to some semblance of order,” Storm said.