$6.53 million project approved to renovate Johnny Downs
ALEXANDRIA, La. (KALB) - It has been over a year since the Johnny Downs Sports Complex was damaged by a tornado, but on Tuesday, Jan. 26, the Alexandria City Council finally voted to approve renovations to the ballpark.
The council’s vote passed after there were six votes “yes” and one vote “no” with District 2 councilman Gerber Porter being the only member to vote against the improvements.
This $6.53 million project will be used to renovate the fences, dugouts, press boxes, concession stands and place turf down on all eight playing fields. Representatives from the Pan American Engineer Company said they expect the fields to be finished and playable by July 15, which is two weeks before the complex is scheduled to host the Dixie League World Series.
Dr. Keith “Skip” Fox, the president of Dixie Softball in Alexandria, said his entire team is relieved that the City of Alexandria is taking the next big step in completing the renovations.
“It’s a relief and it’s gratifying. Johnny Downs is finally going to be renovated, and we will be able to bring great tournaments here,” said Fox.
Nearly 3,500 players and families from around the nation are expected to travel to Alexandria for the Dixie League World Series this summer. Fox confirmed that the City of Alexandria has been awarded more world series for 2022, which would bring in another 6,000 people to the city and has the potential to provide millions in economic value.
In previous meetings, Councilman Porter voted against renovations to the ballpark because he does not feel $7 million should be spent on one facility. At the meeting, the councilman created a presentation to once again try to persuade the rest of the council members to see why he didn’t want to approve the renovations.
Councilman Porter said that the City of Alexandria will never receive back the money they will spend on Johnny Downs.
“We will never recoup that investment. My position has never changed. I do not feel that this facility serves all of Alexandria,” said Porter.
Several members of the council disagreed with Porter’s presentation and said that the entire city benefits when tournaments and world series come to Alexandria.
Johnny Downs will start seeing these improvements in the near future and over the next year will also make improvements to the parking lots at the complex.
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