There’s a new park coming to Town! The city of Oxford is set for a major expansion and economic windfall with the creation of a state-of-the-art sports complex located near I-20 along the Eastern Bypass. The 370-acre complex, dubbed Choccolocco Park, is scheduled to open this summer and will play host to collegiate and interscholastic team competitions, amateur athletic events, tournaments, camps, clinics, and other sporting events for athletic teams and organizations of all levels and sizes.
The new complex will not only be an enormous venue for baseball, softball, soccer, and track and field events, but should attract outdoor enthusiasts as well. With the abundant water and other natural resources of the area, the complex includes a 29-acre lake with pavilions surrounded by a three-plus mile walking trail. It has a creek suitable for canoe and kayak float trips, and offers multiple recreational areas.
The park boasts a signature baseball field and has four additional baseball fields in a 4-leaf clover design. It also features a signature softball field and 5 additional softball fields arranged in a “star” pattern. Batting cages, large scoreboards, and locker rooms are located at the signature baseball and softball fields. Both signature fields have red brick walls comprising ticket booths, concession stands, locker and restroom facilities, covered bleachers, and outfield boundaries. These premier baseball and softball fields will serve as home fields for the Oxford High School Baseball and Softball Programs.
Choccolocco Park features 4 lighted soccer fields. The soccer field area will serve as the venue for all Oxford Park and Recreation soccer leagues, and will also be used to host club soccer tournaments and high school regional events.
The full-scale track venue will include all interscholastic and collegiate track and field events, and conform to standards for both AHSAA and NCAA competitions. Included are the college-only event stations such as Hammer Throw and Steeplechase. Dual javelin, pole vault, and long-jump lanes will face each other to downplay wind effects on participants. An 8-lane rubberized track will encircle most of the field event stations. Locker rooms, grandstands, restrooms, and storage facilities will surround the track. Plans are underway for Jacksonville State University to host Ohio Valley Conference track meets at Choccolocco Park. Oxford High School will utilize the track for home meets, and AHSAA sectional and state track meets could be held at the facility as well. The Senior Games, a track competition across the southeast, has also expressed interest in the track facility.
In addition to team sports, Choccolocco Park will provide outdoor recreational opportunities for locals as well as visitors to the area. Plans are underway to create a canoe/kayak trail along Choccolocco Creek, beginning at the famed Cider Ridge Golf Course and ending – after a projected float trip of up to four hours – at the southwest end of the park. The Canoe/Kayak Trail Project will be in partnership with the Callhoun Soil and Water Office and the Choccolocco Creek Watershed Conservancy, promoting ecotourism and environmental education for the area.
The complex will feature two playgrounds, including a state-of-the-art, fully-accessible “Boundless Playground”, designed especially to meet the needs of individuals with disabilities, particularly physical limitations. It will serve as a tool to increase community and cognitive skills, because the playground has the capacity for handicapped and non-handicapped individuals alike to play together. The Boundless Playground will feature double-wide ramps, allowing the use of multiple wheelchairs, and swings modified to accommodate those with or without physical limitations.
The City is making sure that safety of participants, spectators, and all who utilize any of the park’s myriad recreational opportunities is a top priority as well. Officials have appropriated funds to ensure that the Oxford Police Department has a consistent presence at Choccolocco Park, adding park patrol units and state-of-the-art technology that will monitor all aspects of the facility 24 hours a day.
Thousands of visitors are projected to utilize this facility and its opportunities each year. Each event will bring visitors to the area to restaurants, hotels, and shopping in Oxford and the surrounding area. City leaders are certain the complex will have a significant economic impact on the region. The economic impact of the complex is already being felt through the area, as most of the suppliers and jobs are local.
Don Hudson, Oxford Parks and Recreation Director, is eagerly awaiting the completion of the project, saying “Weather has put a damper on progress, and we’ve made some changes that have all been for the best, but I’m looking forward to it being opened this summer.” He also gives credit to the committee he formed to ensure that Choccolocco Park fields and equipment meet all high school and NCAA regulations. Hudson says “We have an outstanding committee. They’re planning, programming, promoting, and meeting with folks to make sure that we’re doing what we need to do.” He has also brought on two advisors to the committee. Jacksonville State Track and Field coach Steve Ray advises on track and field, and North Alabama Fusion F.C. Director of Coaches Jeremiah Massa advises on soccer.
City officials, citizens, and athletes from near and far anxiously await the completion of Choccolocco Park so players, fans, spectators, and workers can come together to enjoy this special place.