Play Ball in Jackson, TN
West Tennessee Healthcare Sportsplex provides a packed schedule of events.
When baseball enthusiasts dream of fields, the vision they conjure probably looks a lot like the West Tennessee Healthcare Sportsplex. These are some of the shiniest diamonds in the sport. Four complexes spread over 70 acres with a total of 17 lighted and exquisitely groomed fields for baseball and softball.
“The playing conditions at that facility are always top notch,” says Aubrey Richardson, president of the Madison County Babe Ruth and Cal Ripken youth baseball leagues. “I go all over the Southeast to coach in travel ball, and no place has the quality of fields like the Sportsplex. There are some nice parks out there, but Jackson has the nicest.”
Jason Compton has had a close-up view of the Sportsplex ever since it opened in 2006. That’s because for nearly two decades, Compton worked in the front office of the Jackson Generals minor league baseball team, ultimately becoming general manager. The team plays its games at the Ballpark at Jackson, adjacent to the Sportsplex.
Now Compton’s office is even closer to the Sportsplex. In fact, it’s inside the Sportsplex. Compton became director of operations of the Sportsplex last April, taking over a facility that is in use nearly every day for seven to eight months out of the year.
Compton says his overall goal for the Sportsplex is simply to continue providing the Jackson community with some of the best playing fields in the region while adding events and softball.
“The Sportsplex is such an asset to the community of Jackson and West Tennessee,” says Compton, who also serves as a Madison County commissioner. “I’m always looking for ways to better Jackson, and this was an opportunity for me to give back to the community. The opportunity to grow this thing and push the Sportsplex forward was really intriguing to me. It was an opportunity I couldn’t pass up.”
“Some of the Nicest Fields Around”
The sprawling facility is first-class in every way. There are electronic scoreboards and covered dugouts on all the fields as well as a computerized irrigation system. The main concession area has several picnic tables, along with four smaller concession areas.
Spectators can enjoy a VIP area, on-site gift shops and 14 LCD televisions scattered throughout the facility. There also are three paved parking lots with a tunnel connecting all four complexes so teams can park closest to the pod in which they are playing and have easy access to the field.
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As for those fields, they are dreamy indeed, with carefully manicured Bermuda grass that rivals many professional ballparks. The facility has been honored twice by the Tennessee Turfgrass Association for Best Municipal Sports Fields in the state.
“The Sportsplex provides kids a chance to play on some of the nicest fields around,” Richardson says. “For a little kid who likes to play baseball, it’s a big deal to be able to play on the absolute best conditions like that.”
Children are not the only people who are able to play on these fields. In addition to youth-league games for players age 7 through 15, the Sportsplex also is used for adult co-ed softball, senior softball and a special-needs league. Numerous regional tournaments are also held at the Sportsplex, such as the annual USSSA West Tennessee State Baseball Tournament, keeping the facility in almost constant use from March through October.
And after the games are over, players, coaches and parents can head to one of the many restaurants that have popped up near the Sportsplex over the past decade. There are several national chains in the immediate area, along with such local favorites as Reggi’s BBQ. In addition, two new hotels have opened in the past year.
Art Meets Athleticism in Jackson, TN
“During the week, our local kids and rec leagues use the fields, then we host travel tournaments on the weekends that draw teams from all over the region,” Compton says. “It’s the best of both worlds, where during the week we’re providing a quality-of-life aspect for the local residents and then on the weekends, it’s about tourism. Everybody gets to enjoy this facility.”