By CRISTIN REECE
Palestine’s athletic complex is shaping up to be one of the city’s MVPs, thanks to the cooperation of city and economic development officials.
Palestine council members this week approved nearly $50,000 worth of capital improvement expenditures by the Palestine Economic Development Corporation at the city’s athletic complex, in an effort to help attract the growing sports tourism industry to town.
“I think this is a very wise project,” Councilman Will Brule said during a recent council meeting. “The sports tourism industry is huge and this is an incredible chance for us to capitalize on that.”
“All these improvements not only improve the aesthetics of the complex, but make them more usable,” Palestine Economic Development Director Wendy Ellis said. “We want a really top-tier facility that not only supports and improves the quality of life for our residents, but attracts visitors to the area.”
Improvements, which have already started, include adding to and upgrading the facility’s bleachers; painting stripes, fire zones and designated spots for the disabled on the parking lots; and installing concrete curbing and pathways around Field 8.
The Palestine Youth Athletics Association is also helping improve the dugouts and installing new fencing around Field 8 as well.
“Field 8 is our primary field,” Palestine Parks and Recreation Director Roy Crouch said. “We’re pretty excited about these projects. They’re the first step in our ultimate goal of making this our area’s premiere sports complex.
“We really appreciate all the support we’ve received from the PEDC and the PYAA. We’re all working together to make our little pots of money go farther.”
The project has already generated some interest too. The Palestine Youth Athletic Association has already booked a couple Dixie League baseball tournaments at the complex in July.
“We’re hoping to get the bulk of the improvements done in time for the first tourney,” Ellis said.
The PEDC continues to work closely with the city’s Parks and Recreation Department on future projects as well.