Sportsplex Proposed

Details are being released about the first phase of a joint effort to build a sportsplex in Meridian. Within the next month Lauderdale County supervisors are expected to vote on the project. It's a multi-million dollar sportsplex that will be paid for by the county and maintained by the city. Equipped for basketball, indoor volleyball, indoor soccer and more, the complex would be located in Highland Park and would not require a tax increase.

"This is a very conservative board of supervisors," says Lauderdale County Administrator, Joe McCraney. "They haven't raised taxes in two or three years."

McCraney says the indoor sportsplex at Highland Park will not cause supervisors to raise taxes now. Instead, he says the $3.8 million metal structure will be paid for by a county bond which has less than a two percent interest rate.

"The bond for this will never be refinanced because when you refinance one you've got to show a two percent savings. So, we're at the bottom as far as rates," says McCraney.

He goes on to say that out of Mississippi's 82 counties, Lauderdale County is one of four to receive a AA-3 rating, which is very high.

"The last couple of years we've refinanced bond issues. For the last ones that we refinanced we saved approximately $1 million over the life of the bond because Lauderdale County has one of the best bond ratings in the state,' says McCraney.

The proposed sportsplex would be located in District 4. Supervisor Joe Norwood represents that area. He says the basketball courts could be transformed into indoor soccer fields by using artificial turf. Also, he says the building would be used to provide adult education and recreation services for health and fitness.

"I don't want people to think that this is some 'Joe Norwood project,' or some 'basketball project.' this thing is bigger than that. This is a community wide effort. This will be an indoor facility that we do not have anywhere in the county. It will serve more kids than all the kids in the city and county combined through it's recreational program," says Norwood.

If ultimately approved by supervisors, Norwood projects that work on the complex will be well underway by the start of next year. He says the structure is expected to take up to two years to complete.

The size for the proposed sportsplex is 32,000 square feet. The estimated cost is approximately $3,840,000.