By William C. Singleton III
The opening of the new Hoover Metropolitan Complex athletic fields will make Hoover a competitor for softball and baseball tournaments throughout the Southeast, Hoover Mayor Frank Brocato said.
“We’re looking forward to bringing people from across the United States, but particularly from the Southeastern United States, who will use this facility as well as the Finley Center so we can get an opportunity to showcase and let people know what a great city we live in,” he said.
Brocato and other city and parks and recreation officials and staff held a ribbon-cutting ceremony Aug. 11 to mark the official opening of the baseball and softball fields.
The fields include one grass field and four synthetic turf fields – all NCAA- regulation size – that can be converted to soccer and football fields as necessary, Brocato said.
Completing the fields ends the second phase of the $80 million Hoover Metropolitan Complex. The Finley Center, a 155,000-square-foot indoor events facility that features courts for basketball and volleyball tournaments, was completed last year.
The third phase of the project includes five football fields – which also will be used as soccer and lacrosse fields – 16 tennis courts, a splash park and a climbing adventure section in the Finley Center, said John Sparks, the newly hired general manager for the Hoover Metropolitan Complex.
Brocato said the city amended its plans for the complex to include an all-inclusive 22,000-square-foot playground for children, including disabled children. The entire facility should be finished by the summer of 2019, he said.
“In addition to the SEC (baseball tournament) already using this complex, we are seeing youth tournaments every day, particularly at the Finley Center. And now we will have this venue to offer,” Brocato said.
“All the studies you read and all of the information that you gather from travel bureaus talk about the positive impact of youth sports on communities like Hoover,” he said. “We consider ourselves now a major player in that area.” Southeastern Conference baseball holds its tournament at the Hoover Metropolitan Stadium.
The mayor added that Hoover residents won’t be left out.
“We will incorporate our citizens into this, and our youth baseball and soccer teams into this complex as well. We want it to be something the community can use as well.”
On hand for the official opening of the fields were residents, Hoover High School cheerleaders and members of the Hoover soccer club, the Spain Park baseball team and Hoover High School girls’ softball team. The event featured inflatable games, face-painting artists, food vendors and a softball game featuring area celebrities.
Marina Gonzalez, 33, of Ross Bridge said she was excited about the new fields and hopes her son, 10-year-old Hector, gets to play baseball on them.
“I just love the way it looks,” she said. “It’s totally different from what he’s been playing on,” she said of the synthetic fields. “I actually want to come out and try it out.”