What's next for Johnny Downs?

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ALEXANDRIA, La (KALB) - The extensive damage to the Johnny Downs Sports Complex has left the community looking for answers.

Source: KALB

What's next for Johnny Downs?

Once a child's greatest getaway, Johnny Downs is now anyone's worst nightmare.

"We have to get this back going," City Councilman at Large Jim Villard said.

After suffering the effects of the tornado on Monday, Johnny Downs Sports Complex is destroyed.

"It's devastating,” Villard said. “We’re lucky that no one got hurt, and we're lucky that it just skirted the city of Alexandria."

Renovated in the year 2015, the complex served as one of the premier places to hold sporting events from soccer to baseball.

“It's tough,” Superintendent of Parks and Recreation Cam Hallman said. “You have a lot of our youth that come here, and we have a lot of people that travel in other parts of the state that come here. I know it hits people pretty hard right now."

As of now, there's no time table on when renovations will be redone, but parks and recreation say that getting Johnny Downs back up and running is a main priority as well as keeping the city safe from the debris that remains.

"We have trucks out here from our utilities service department trying to make sure that the power lines are taken care of so that we don't have any potential harm for those folks that may come out here," Interim Community Service Director Thomas Nash, Sr. said.

"As of right now, I’ve had some signs that have been made by the traffic department that say caution and to not come in here," Hallman said.

"This has been a place for everyone to come from all around the country to come play softball and baseball,” Villard said.

Coaching through the loss

Extensive damage, from a 63-mile tornado, left the Johnny Downs complex in shambles and everyone who has history there, impacted.

"It's devastating really," Dixie league head coach and board member, Justin Foltz said.

It was a tragedy to see a place where all athletes come every weekend to compete, no longer existing.

"Nothing can be salvaged here," Foltz said. "We've literally had hundreds of thousands of people play softball and baseball that love this facility and love this field. It's tragic."

Despite the circumstances, Foltz says it was time for new fields anyway.

"There were some things that need improvements here," Foltz said. "Hopefully, we can help build another state of the art complex."

The next step is to get on the same page with the city and clean up what's left. In the meantime, the Dixie Softball League has other options.

"I received a number of calls and texts around Central Louisiana offering their fields and their assistance in any way," Foltz said.

That's the beauty in having so much support.

"We have a tight softball community as well as baseball in this town, and we have a tremendous amount of support from the city, so we have a lot of resources," Foltz said.

It’s not an easy fix, but Foltz is just trying to find the positives through it all.

"We can sacrifice,” Foltz said. “At the end of the day, no one was seriously hurt, we didn’t have any fatalities in this area which was fortunate. At the end of the day, we are rebuilding and only can move on."

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