Gadsden, AL. – The first phase of construction at the new Gadsden Sports Park is nearing completion, and the Gadsden City Council on Tuesday approved bids to begin work on the second phase of the park.
The council awarded a $5.6 million bid to Bob Smith Construction for second-phase work, which will include rebuilding and improvement of the baseball/softball fields and concession stand/press box area, and the addition of a parking lot on the north side of the site.
Another bid was approved for patching a road into the site with heavier, sturdier rock and hot mix. City Engineer Heath Williamson explained it’s better to patch the road now and do final resurfacing later when construction equipment won’t be traveling there.
Council member Jason Wilson said he wanted to clarify that this is not necessarily $5.6 million in new money. He said the money had been allocated for the project, and it went on hold during the pandemic. He said it was not “new spending.”
The sports park project marks a long-term partnership between the city and Gadsden State Community College to expand sports facilities adjacent to the college campus and to provide new recreation opportunities for all of Gadsden and Etowah County.
The first phase turned the former fisheries area of GSCC into three NCAA-sized multipurpose athletic fields that can be reconfigured into youth-sized fields, Community Affairs Coordinator Michael Rodgers said in a press release, with a walking trail surrounding the lake and a parking lot to serve that side of the complex.
Williamson said the final steps and landscaping for Phase I should be completed early next year.
“These developments and renovations enhance the city’s ability to further develop the riverfront and recruit first-class soccer, youth baseball and softball tournaments to Gadsden,” Rodgers said. “The continued cooperation on the project will bring benefits to both Gadsden State Community College and the City of Gadsden.
“Beyond providing a top-quality facility for city and county residents, it is another development along Gadsden’s Coosa Riverfront that also includes an opportunity to connect the community to Gadsden State. Visitors to the area will also see GSCC’s continued investments in education and campus facilities,” Rodgers continued.
Wilson questioned whether any of the sports fields at the park will be be covered with artificial turf. Williamson said there are pros and cons with turf and sod, but after looking at the options the decision was made to go with sod on the fields. He said improved drainage at the new fields will provide excellent facilities.
Wilson said a number of facilities, such as Oxford’s, have gone with artificial turf, and joked that he’s hoping to get a square of artificial turf somewhere in the city. He had asked whether a “miracle field” or “field of dreams” for disabled children will be included in the second phase.
Williamson said that is likely to be a part of a third phase at the park, and that for that field an artificial turf of sorts, possibly like the surface at Moragne Park, may be used.