New waterpark, softball field coming to Hattiesburg

(The following is a press release from the City of Hattiesburg.)

Hattiesburg, Mississippi - On Wednesday, August 3, Hattiesburg Mayor Toby Barker was joined by leadership with the Hattiesburg Convention Commissioners, Hattiesburg Public School District, Hattiesburg City Council, Forrest County Board of Supervisors, Visit Hattiesburg, Hattiesburg Optimist Club and other local partners to announce future plans for two city parks, specifically the relocation of Cameron Field to Jaycee Park, as well as the construction of a new girls softball field for Hattiesburg High School at Jaycee Park; and the construction of Serengeti Springs, a waterpark that will mark the expansion of the Hattiesburg Zoo in Kamper Park.


As one of Mississippi’s most visited destinations, Hattiesburg continues to grow its tourism economy. At the height of the pandemic, it grew 9% in 2021 over 2020.


A state-of-the-art waterpark and a new park of ballfields, retrofitted with synthetic turf on infields and modern-day amenities to host tournaments, will position the city to grow in offerings for both residents and visitors alike.


“Today marks the beginning of a bold future for Kamper Park, Dixie Boys baseball and Hattiesburg High School softball,” said Barker. "It shows what we as a community can accomplish when we think big, work together and share resources for the collective good of the next generation."


Expansion prepares for the next generation of ball players


Cameron Field, built on legacy and pride and the home of Dixie Boys Baseball for generations in Hattiesburg, will be relocated to Jaycee Park, as part of a shared-use project with the Hattiesburg Public School District.


It will feature one dedicated baseball field and a softball field that can flex into a second baseball field during the summer months. It will include:

  • Increased capacity, with two fields that can accommodate baseball

  • One field will include a grand slam safety fence to accommodate the high school softball program

  • Increased bullpen space

  • Synthetic turf infields with permanent striping

  • Turf infield/sand base outfields on both fields with an under-drain system to better accommodate rain events

  • Bleachers outfitted with an awning to protect spectators from foul balls, sun and rain

  • Upgraded concession areas with restrooms and a meeting room

  • Entry plaza that will accommodate all memorials, engravings from Cameron Field at Kamper Park, flagpole, landscaping and decorative paving

  • New paved parking lot, with the shared capacity to include on-street parking along Quinn Street and neighboring lots at Ben McNair Center and Hattiesburg High School


The total cost for improvements at Jaycee Park is estimated to cost just over $4 million and is funded primarily through the 1% tax on hotel/motel/restaurants that was approved by the residents of Hattiesburg in April 2019. Contributions to funding will also come from the Hattiesburg Public School District, Hattiesburg Convention Commission, Forrest County Board of Supervisors and Visit Hattiesburg.


Barker added, “We know that even with new state-of-the-art fields for baseball and softball, there will be mixed feelings about Cameron Field moving from Kamper Park. We know the century of history that occurred on its grounds and the memories made by generations of families. We are committed to telling that story - with historic markers at the new waterpark, signage and memorials that will be preserved and commemorative infield dirt that will be made available to those interested. In the end, we draw strength and vision from those who came before us. However, we are also empowered by those same leaders to make decisions for the betterment of current and future generations.”


To honor the memories associated with Cameron Field at Kamper Park, the City of Hattiesburg is making commemorative jars with field dirt available at no cost to local players, coaches, families and friends of the Dixie Boys Youth Program and the Hattiesburg Optimist Club. There is a limited amount available and requests will be honored as they are received through the form located at http://yourpennyatwork.com/cameronfield


With the relocation of Cameron Field to Jaycee Park, the existing space at Kamper Park will be graded and prepared for the expansion of a waterpark at the Hattiesburg Zoo.


Hattiesburg Zoo expands with Serengeti Springs


Annually, more than 230,000 unique visitors per year - from all over the Gulf South - stop at the Hattiesburg Zoo. As a crown jewel in Hattiesburg’s set of attractions, it is poised for deliberate expansion that continues to bolster tourism for the Hattiesburg economy.


“Expanding the Hattiesburg Zoo to include the Serengeti Springs waterpark is a natural fit,” said Rick Taylor, Executive Director of the Hattiesburg Convention Commission, which will build and manage the park. "This expansion will carry through the same look and feel of Africa that exists in our Zoo, and will combine the slides and spray with rest and relaxation."


Serengeti Springs will be an extension of the African Continent’s animal habitats and entertainment areas. It will be located on 3.5 acres of Kamper Park, which borders Hardy Street, Park Avenue and Gordon’s Creek.


Designed to accommodate all ages and mobility levels, Serengeti Springs will meet the growing demand for family-friendly activities in the Hattiesburg metropolitan area.


"As a mother of three active children, I am excited that we are bringing another first-class attraction to Hattiesburg,” said Jennifer Payne, chair of the Hattiesburg Convention Commission. “Serengeti Springs at the Hattiesburg Zoo will bring a unique offering – only available in Hattiesburg, Mississippi.”


The park expansion will take place through two phases, inclusive of an entry building, 19 water-spray toys, a lazy river, swim-up bar, pavilions, restroom and shower areas and water slide tower. Phase One, which includes the Fusion Fortress, lazy river, swim-up bar and lounging accommodations, will be complete by Summer 2023. Phase Two, which will include a slide tower, may take up to four years post the opening of Phase One.


The project is estimated to cost $10.5 million and is funded through the 2% restaurant tax.


“Hattiesburg continually proves itself as the dynamic, forward-thinking city in Mississippi, and one reason for that is that we believe that the most important generation is the next generation,” said Barker. “These projects testify to that belief and set into motion a bold, exciting future for both Kamper and Jaycee parks."


For details about the relocation of Cameron Field and the premier ballfield facility located at Jaycee Park, visit //yourpennyatwork.com/cameronfield.


For details about the expansion of Kamper Park through the Hattiesburg Zoo and Serengeti Springs, visit hattiesburgzoo.com


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