Improvements at Friendship Park will entice more tourism

Published 7:00 am Friday, March 9, 2018

Four baseball fields at Friendship Park in Picayune are currently undergoing an upgrade in the form of brick backstops.

Director of Parks and Recreation Trevor Adam said he sat down with Darby McCranie, PYAA president, before the beginning of the year to come up with ideas to improve the park. During the meeting, they decided to offer brick backstop sponsorship opportunities to local businesses. The sponsorship allows a business to sponsor a field and have their name displayed on the scoreboard for the next four years in return for funding the backstop upgrade.

Each sponsorship costs $3,500. Currently, four businesses are sponsoring a field, including McDonald Funeral Home, Riser Medical, Barrett Brayson State Farm and Battle Diamond Sports.

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“Every single bit of this project is covered by the brick backstop sponsorship and not only is this a cosmetic upgrade but it is also a smart business decision because it helps the city of Picayune save money,” Adam said.

He said that fence backstops usually last about three to five years. When it comes time to replace them, it can cost between $3,000 and $7,000. However, a brick backstop can last for up to 20 years, Adam said.

“Field-wise, we have one of the biggest complexes between Mississippi, Louisiana and Alabama and having this custom brickwork added to our fields helps our park become more appealing to the eye,” Adam said.

In the past year, Friendship Park has hosted several baseball tournaments, including the 7-year-old Cal Ripken League regional tournament and Adam hopes to host more tournaments in the near future.

“Being able to host baseball tournaments also gives our economy a boost, as people spend their money at our local restaurants and shops,” Adam said. “The community has played a huge role in our success of hosting tournaments because we have received many positive comments from visiting teams about how everyone around town is friendly and how they plan on coming back and visit us later in the future.”

Upon completion of the brick backstop project, Adam will begin working on other projects around the park, which include adding more lights to the soccer fields, an upgrade to the bathrooms by the soccer fields and adding asphalt in key areas so handicaped residents can easily access the concession stands.

“Even though we have a long way to go from where we want to be, I’m happy with the growth and improvements that we have made to the facilities recently,” Adam said.

Adam expects the brick backstop for the currently sponsored fields to be completed before March 17, which is opening day. That event will feature a Buddy Ball game as well. The opening ceremony will take place at about 9 a.m.  Everyone in the community is invited to attend.

For more information about sponsorships, contact the Picayune Parks and Recreation Department at (601) 799-0602.