Twenty years ago the vision of then Mayor Walter Johnson became a reality with the opening of the New Albany Sportsplex.
Through the years the sportsplex has attracted teams and their revenue-producing parents and friends from all over the South to play in what many regard as a showplace in the region.
The facilities, on Bratton Road on the south side of U.S. 78, were upgraded several times and eventually a spray park for children, pushed hard by Alderman Tommie Beasley, was added.
Then last year the park was expanded across the north side of the highway with the addition of tennis courts, soccer fields and a new pavilion housing restrooms and a concession area.
But none of this would have happened without the drive of Johnson, who literally begged, borrowed, and some say almost stole to get the materials and labor to build it. Johnson, who started working on the sportsplex project in 1990, helped dedicate the facility as one of his last official acts as mayor in 1993.
Today no one can even imagine our city without the sportsplex, now called BNA Bank Park. It has become a major factor in bringing people from out of town to our city, as well as providing first class facilities for our city recreational and high school sports programs.
More projects lie ahead: Finishing and lighting the soccer fields, adding more tennis courts, and revamping some of the existing fields. A community swimming pool also is under discussion.
As we celebrate 20 years of the sportsplex, we honor the vision of Johnson and others. May that vision continue as we move forward.
About Chris Elkins
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