Inside JCPRD: Facility upgrades under way at Mid-America Sports Complex

A rendering of the complex’s new Fan Zone, which should be completed about Sept. 2.

By David Markham

If you’ve driven by the Mid-America Sports Complex lately, you may have seen evidence of the start of a six-year project to update both that facility and the nearby Mid-America West Sports Complex.

Last week, the building at the center of fields 1 through 4 which previously housed the Dingers Sports Bar was demolished as a first step towards replacing it.

“Dingers was 30 years old and had too many ADA (Americans with Disability Act) concerns, so it is getting replaced with a single-story concessions/restroom building,” explained Sports & Facilities North Manager Doug Hite.

In November 2019, the Johnson County Board of Park and Recreation Commissioners approved a six-year plan to fund improvements at Mid-America Sports Complex and Mid-America West Sports Complex, in response to an athletic field study completed in 2018 and 2019. The new master plan was developed by VSR Design, MHS, and Incite Design Studios.

“This is a three-year project for Mid-America and then we start another three-year project updating and turfing Mid-America West,” Hite said. “We will have 24 turf fields within a half mile of each other, and we will have one of the best facilities in the Midwest that will be the place to play.”

In October 2020, Phase 1, involving $11.99 million in improvements at MASC, got under way.  It is projected that by April 2, artificial turf will be installed on four fields, and lights on all 12 of the complex’s fields will be  replaced with LED lighting. Hite noted the new lighting will have a much longer life, will be more energy efficient resulting in cost savings, will have higher brightness for safety, will result in less “blind spots” from the lights on other fields,  will generate much less heat, and will provide for directional lighting which will cause much less glare to surrounding neighborhoods.

The overall goal of all these projects is “to provide an unforgettable experience both between the lines and outside the lines.”

The new concessions/restroom building between fields one through four should be completed around June 2, and the complex’s new Fan Zone should be completed about Sept. 2. This area will be located west of fields 1 and 8 and will have: full concessions with seating, restrooms, an umpires’ room, manager’s office, an outside BBQ cooker, two turf warm-up fields, ten hitting tunnels, two age-appropriate playgrounds for ages 6 to 12, and will serve as a designated site for teams to hang out between games.

Other Phase 1 projects will include demolition of the MASC entry and maintenance building, a new entry gate and signage, as well as common area irrigation, security, and utility improvements.

Phase 2 improvements are planned for 2021 and will involve another $10.3 million in projects including: demolition and replacement of an existing satellite concession/restroom building, construction of a new maintenance building, installation of artificial turf on four more fields, as well as more improvements to utilities and paving, parking and lighting, and a turf warm-up and practice area.

Phase 3 improvements at MASC will follow in 2022 with another $9.12 million in projects. This phase will include: demolition and replacement of an existing satellite concessions/restroom building, installation of portable restrooms near fields 9 and 10, installation of artificial turf on another four fields, as well as more improvements to batting cages, utilities, and paving.

Early in 2020, about $4 million in projects separate from Phase 1 were completed at both MASC and MAWSC. These included replacing six-foot chain fences with eight-foot black galvanized fencing, replacing chain backstops with 40-foot netting, expanding dugouts, adding shaded seating structures, and establishing two bullpens for every field.

Hite said the overall goal of all these projects is “to provide an unforgettable experience both between the lines and outside the lines.”

For more information about these projects, go to jcprd.com/1475/Mid-America-Sports-Complex-Improvements.