Hattiesburg, Convention Commission and Local Partners Announce Plans for Jaycee Park & Kamper Park

Hattiesburg, Mississippi – On Wednesday, August 3, Hattiesburg Mayor Toby Barker was joined by leadership with the Hattiesburg Convention Commissioners, Hattiesburg Public School District, Hattiesburg City Council, Forrest County Board of Supervisors, Visit Hattiesburg, Hattiesburg Optimist Club and other local partners to announce future plans for two city parks, specifically the relocation of Cameron Field to Jaycee Park, as well as the construction of a new girls softball field for Hattiesburg High School at Jaycee Park; and the construction of Serengeti Springs, a waterpark that will mark the expansion of the Hattiesburg Zoo in Kamper Park.

As one of Mississippi’s most visited destinations, Hattiesburg continues to grow its tourism economy. At the height of the pandemic, it grew 9% in 2021 over 2020.

A state-of-the-art water park and a new park of ballfields, retrofitted with synthetic turf on infields and modern-day amenities to host tournaments, will position the city to grow in offerings for both residents and visitors alike.

“Today marks the beginning of a bold future for Kamper Park, Dixie Boys baseball and Hattiesburg High School softball,” said Barker. “It shows what we as a community can accomplish when we think big, work together and share resources for the collective good of the next generation.”

Expansion prepares for the next generation of ball players

Cameron Field, built on legacy and pride and the home of Dixie Boys Baseball for generations in Hattiesburg, will be relocated to Jaycee Park, as part of a shared-use project with the Hattiesburg Public School District.

It will feature one dedicated baseball field and a softball field that can flex into a second baseball field during the summer months. It will include:

  • Increased capacity, with two fields that can accommodate baseball
  • One field will include a grand slam safety fence to accommodate the high school softball program
  • Increased bullpen space
  • Synthetic turf infields with permanent striping
  • Turf infield/sand base outfields on both fields with an under-drain system to better accommodate rain events
  • Bleachers outfitted with an awning to protect spectators from foul balls, sun and rain
  • Upgraded concession areas with restrooms and a meeting room
  • Entry plaza that will accommodate all memorials, engravings from Cameron Field at Kamper Park, flagpole, landscaping and decorative paving
  • New paved parking lot, with the shared capacity to include on-street parking along Quinn Street and neighboring lots at Ben McNair Center and Hattiesburg High School

The total cost for improvements at Jaycee Park is estimated to cost just over $4 million and is funded primarily through the 1% tax on hotel/motel/restaurants that was approved by the residents of Hattiesburg in April 2019. Contributions to funding will also come from the Hattiesburg Public School District, Hattiesburg Convention Commission, Forrest County Board of Supervisors and Visit Hattiesburg.

Barker added, “We know that even with new state-of-the-art fields for baseball and softball, there will be mixed feelings about Cameron Field moving from Kamper Park. We know the century of history that occurred on its grounds and the memories made by generations of families. We are committed to telling that story – with historic markers at the new waterpark, signage and memorials that will be preserved and commemorative infield dirt that will be made available to those interested. In the end, we draw strength and vision from those who came before us. However, we are also empowered by those same leaders to make decisions for the betterment of current and future generations.”

To honor the memories associated with Cameron Field at Kamper Park, the City of Hattiesburg is making commemorative jars with field dirt available at no cost to local players, coaches, families and friends of the Dixie Boys Youth Program and the Hattiesburg Optimist Club. There is a limited amount available and requests will be honored as they are received through the form located at yourpennyatwork.com/cameronfield.

With the relocation of Cameron Field to Jaycee Park, the existing space at Kamper Park will be graded and prepared for the expansion of a water park at the Hattiesburg Zoo.

Hattiesburg Zoo expands with Serengeti Springs 

Annually, more than 230,000 unique visitors per year – from all over the Gulf South – stop at the Hattiesburg Zoo. As a crown jewel in Hattiesburg’s set of attractions, it is poised for deliberate expansion that continues to bolster tourism for the Hattiesburg economy.

“Expanding the Hattiesburg Zoo to include the Serengeti Springs water park is a natural fit,” said Rick Taylor, Executive Director of the Hattiesburg Convention Commission, which will build and manage the park.  “This expansion will carry through the same look and feel of Africa that exists in our Zoo, and will combine the slides and spray with rest and relaxation.”

Serengeti Springs will be an extension of the African Continent’s animal habitats and entertainment areas. It will be located on 3.5 acres of Kamper Park, which borders Hardy Street, Park Avenue and Gordon’s Creek.

Designed to accommodate all ages and mobility levels, Serengeti Springs will meet the growing demand for family-friendly activities in the Hattiesburg metropolitan area.

“As a mother of three active children, I am excited that we are bringing another first-class attraction to Hattiesburg,” said Jennifer Payne, chair of the Hattiesburg Convention Commission. “Serengeti Springs at the Hattiesburg Zoo will bring a unique offering – only available in Hattiesburg, Mississippi.”

The park expansion will take place through two phases, inclusive of an entry building, 19 water-spray toys, a lazy river, swim-up bar, pavilions, restroom and shower areas and water slide tower. Phase One, which includes the Fusion Fortress, lazy river, swim-up bar and lounging accommodations, will be complete by Summer 2023. Phase Two, which will include a slide tower, may take up to four years post the opening of Phase One.

The project is estimated to cost $10.5 million and is funded through the 2% restaurant tax.

“Hattiesburg continually proves itself as the dynamic, forward-thinking city in Mississippi, and one reason for that is that we believe that the most important generation is the next generation,” said Barker. “These projects testify to that belief and set into motion a bold, exciting future for both Kamper and Jaycee parks.”

For details about the relocation of Cameron Field and the premier ballfield facility located at Jaycee Park, visit yourpennyatwork.com/cameronfield.

For details about the expansion of Kamper Park through the Hattiesburg Zoo and Serengeti Springs, visit hattiesburgzoo.com.

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VIDEO FOR JAYCEE PARK

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RENDERINGS FOR SERENGETI SPRINGS

FREQUENTLY ASKED QUESTIONS

>> BOTH PROJECTS

  1. When will construction begin on the relocation of Cameron Field to Jaycee Park? Will it be complete in time for the next Dixie Boys season?

Construction to relocate will begin immediately, pending contractor availability and the weather. The goal of the City of Hattiesburg and the Optimist Club is to work deliberately so that Opening Day 2023 for all ages of Dixie Boys will take place at the new facility.

  1. Where will Hattiesburg High Softball play until the renovations are completed at Jaycee Park?

Practices and games will be accommodated through the facilities at Tatum Park until construction is complete.

  1. How will all of these projects be paid for?

The total cost for Cameron Field at Jaycee Park and upgrades are estimated to cost just over $4 million and is funded primarily through the 1% tax on hotel/motel/restaurants that was approved by the residents of Hattiesburg in April 2019. Contributions to funding will also come from the Hattiesburg Public School District, Hattiesburg Convention Commission, Forrest County Board of Supervisors and Visit Hattiesburg.

Serengeti Springs at the Hattiesburg Zoo is estimated to cost $10.5 million and is funded through the 2% restaurant tax.

  1. How will a water park and tournament play for Dixie Boys Baseball impact traffic on Hardy Street?

As our city continues to grow its tourism offerings, there will be a strain on traffic in specific corridors during a variety of times throughout the year. However, Hardy Street and neighborhood roads have experienced several upgrades and traffic calming measures throughout the last five years to help alleviate neighborhood traffic and accommodate additional traffic along Hardy Street. This includes new infrastructure under the ground, paving, curb work, 8ft multi-use paths, fencing in some stretches, a new roundabout and landscaping.

  1. Will there be enough parking to accommodate both of these projects?

The construction of Cameron Field at Jaycee Park will include a new park lot, with shared capacity of on-street parking along Quinn Street and neighboring lots at the Ben McNair Center and Hattiesburg High School.

The Zoo will continue its shared agreement for shared space with Hardy Street Baptist Church, in addition to its onsite parking.

6. Will the tennis courts, playground and/or walking trail at Kamper Park be removed to accommodate the new water park?

No. The tennis courts, playground and walking trail at Kamper Park will remain. In fact, a complete renovation of the Kamper Park tennis courts is slated to begin in 2023, and construction on a new, inclusive playground could begin in 2023 or 2024.

>> SERENGETI SPRINGS AT HATTIESBURG ZOO IN KAMPER PARK

1. Where will Serengeti Springs at the Hattiesburg Zoo be located?

The Hattiesburg Zoo’s Africa section will expand to feature the new Serengeti Springs. This extension will be located on 3.5 acres of Kamper Park, which borders Hardy Street to the North, Park Avenue to the West and Gordon’s Creek to the East.

2. Where will parking be located for Serengeti Springs at the Hattiesburg Zoo?

Parking for Serengeti Springs at the Hattiesburg Zoo will be located on the South side of the Water Park, and will be accessible from Park Ave. off of Hardy Street. Parking will be free of charge in these areas.

3. Phase 1 of Serengeti Springs at the Hattiesburg Zoo will include what?

  • Fusion Fortress Water Play Structure
  • Entry Building with Gift Shop, Changing Rooms and Showers, Lockers and more.
  • Lazy River
  • Swim Up Pool and Bar
  • Group Pavilions
  • Cabanas
  • Food Trucks
  • Staff office building
  • Loungers, Adirondack Chairs, Tables and other amenities

4. What does the Fusion Fortress at Serengeti Springs at the Hattiesburg Zoo include?

Nine slides of varying heights. Some straight slides and several with twists and turns, and the soon-to-be-famous “Serengeti Swirl”. There will be multiple water-play areas and two bucket dump stations, all in a design that highlights the animals and environment of Africa. Underneath the Fusion Fortress is the Life Floor, which provides a cushioned floor that is antimicrobial and has a zero-water level (meaning there is no standing water). On the Life Floor around the perimeter of the Fusion Fortress are an additional 19 spray toys, allowing for access and enjoyment outside of the slide areas.

5. When will the construction of Phase 1 begin on Serengeti Springs at the Hattiesburg Zoo?

August 2022

6. When will Phase 1 of Serengeti Springs at the Hattiesburg Zoo be open?

Summer of 2023.

7. Will there be any animal interaction at Serengeti Springs at the Hattiesburg Zoo?

There will be special animal presentations in the park in addition to the tropical animals that will live at Serengeti Springs at the Hattiesburg Zoo.

8. Phase 2 of Serengeti Springs at the Hattiesburg Zoo will include what?

Serengeti Springs at the Hattiesburg Zoo will include a Slide Tower of 4 slides, which will begin construction between 2-4 years after the opening of Phase 1.

9. Is Serengeti Springs at the Hattiesburg Zoo handicap accessible?

Serengeti Springs at the Hattiesburg Zoo will have most areas accessible for all guests while other areas will require guests to climb stairs. Access to the Lazy River is a zero-entry beach, which is accessible to guests of all mobility levels.

10. What is the measurement of the tallest structure at Serengeti Springs at the Hattiesburg Zoo?

The large bucket is the tallest structure at Serengeti Springs at the Hattiesburg Zoo, and stands at 62’ high. The large bucket periodically dumps 800 gallons of water onto Fusion Fortress guests while the smaller bucket dumps 475 gallons of water.

11. How much water is used at Serengeti Springs at the Hattiesburg Zoo?

The water used for Serengeti Springs at the Hattiesburg Zoo is captured, treated and recycled. Only a small amount of water is lost each day due to evaporation.

12. What are the age restrictions for entrance to Serengeti Springs at the Hattiesburg Zoo? What age does a child have to be to be without a parent in Serengeti Springs at the Hattiesburg Zoo?

Serengeti Springs at the Hattiesburg Zoo is designed for people of all ages to enjoy. Children ages 12 and under must have an adult present while at Serengeti Springs.

13. What are the months of operation for Serengeti Springs at the Hattiesburg Zoo?

Serengeti Springs at the Hattiesburg Zoo will operate from Memorial Day through Labor Day. If the weather warrants, Serengeti Springs at the Hattiesburg Zoo will open on weekends prior to Memorial Day and after Labor Day.

14. What are the admission costs for Serengeti Springs at the Hattiesburg Zoo?

Ticket pricing for Serengeti Springs at the Hattiesburg Zoo is currently being determined with affordability being a priority. There will be a multitude of ticket options to choose from including one-day tickets, annual passes, two-day passes for entry into the Hattiesburg Zoo and Serengeti Springs at the Hattiesburg Zoo and joint annual passes for both the Zoo and Water Park.

15. Will food be available inside Serengeti Springs at the Hattiesburg Zoo? Are guests allowed to bring in their own food and drinks?

Food trucks and other refreshment kiosks will be in the park for food and beverage purchases. Adult beverages will be available for those age 21+. No outside food or beverages are allowed.

16. Will there be lifeguards at Serengeti Springs at the Hattiesburg Zoo?

Yes. Serengeti Springs will be using internationally recognized StarGuard Elite to certify lifeguards and ensure the Water Park meets or exceeds water park safety requirements.

17. How many jobs will be created by the creation of Serengeti Springs at the Hattiesburg Zoo?

Serengeti Springs at the Hattiesburg Zoo will create an estimated 6- 8 permanent positions with up to 75 seasonal positions.

18. What is the cost of the Serengeti Springs at the Hattiesburg Zoo project? Where is the money coming from to build Serengeti Springs at the Hattiesburg Zoo?

Serengeti Springs at the Hattiesburg Zoo is being created at a cost of $10.5 M, and is being funded by the Hattiesburg Convention Commission from earned revenues and the special 2% restaurant tax. At its completion, Serengeti Springs at the Hattiesburg Zoo is designed to be self-sufficient and profitable.

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