When it comes to public recreation, the city of Starkville isn’t playing around—but that’s exactly what residents will enjoy doing when Cornerstone Sports Complex officially opens this month.
The 124-acre park located off Highway 25 in southwest Starkville represents the city’s ongoing efforts to provide a premier sports facility that doubles as a venue for community events.
“The Cornerstone Sports Complex is one of the finest facilities of its kind in Mississippi and a local asset that will benefit families, children and the community for generations to come,” said Starkville Mayor Lynn Spruill. “It also will be a popular travel destination for sporting events and other activities, providing a major boost for the local economy.”
Spruill said the public is invited to a ribbon cutting ceremony on Oct. 13 from 11 a.m. – 1 p.m. at the new complex located at 226 Cornerstone Blvd. Patrons will be treated to ballpark tours, refreshments and the unveiling of a statue honoring professional baseball hall of famer and Starkville native Cool Papa Bell.
At the heart of the new Cornerstone Sports Complex are a dozen baseball and softball diamonds that can host the city’s recreational leagues as well as tournaments. Each ballfield quad has two batting cages, and the fields themselves were modeled in part after Dudy Noble Field, home to the 2021 NCAA Baseball Championship Mississippi State Bulldogs baseball team.
Ten 225-foot fields and two 250-foot fields have artificial turf infields, while outfields are seeded with the same Bermuda grass specially engineered for Dudy Noble Field. Young ball players and their families can experience the thrill of playing on a pro-level field, enjoy the amenities of Starkville and maybe even become national champs themselves one day.
“Kids from ages 5 to 12 will be out there playing ball in the springtime,” said Brandon Doherty, general manager at Starkville Parks and Recreation. “We’re also developing a competitive league for our local athletes and inviting teams for the region to come join so they can have a competitive fall season too.”
He noted that the new complex will give Starkville an upper hand in landing a share of the annual multi-billion-dollar sports tourism industry driven by baseball and softball tournaments and summer travel leagues. “A lot of teams will come here for the experience of playing in a new, state-of-the-art facility,” said Doherty.
The fields also include video systems with two camera views so fans can watch remotely online, while coaches, parents and players can review games later to spot ways to improve their skills.
Additional amenities include areas for warming up, a playground and flex space, walking trails and community lawn spaces. In addition to the main concessions area in the central pavilion, the park has food trucks and trailers that can be moved around to serve guests.
Although it’s the ultimate baseball and softball facility, city planners intended for it to be much more than a ballpark.
“It’s designed and equipped to be a multi-purpose venue which could host concerts, festivals, organizational days and even weddings,” said Doherty. “We want to branch out and serve the interests of all age groups across the entire spectrum.”
Cornerstone Sports Complex joins seven other city parks serving the community, including the Travis Outlaw Recreation Center, Moncrief Park and swimming pool, the J.L. King splash pad, as well as several playgrounds, basketball courts, tennis/pickleball courts, soccer fields, additional softball and baseball fields and covered pavilions.
The Starkville Parks & Recreation Department manages 480 acres of public land and provides an abundance of recreational opportunities year-round.
“It's really exciting because Cornerstone is a blank canvas with a lot of space and a lot of opportunity,” Doherty said. “We can’t wait for the community to experience it.”
As the home of Mississippi State University, Starkville is always brimming with activities and excitement, from sporting events, concerts and festivals to vibrant Main Street dining and shopping attractions to the quaint and inviting Cotton District near campus. The city has evolved from one of Mississippi’s most scenic and historically significant locales into a dynamic and modern community that’s routinely named among the best places in America to live, attend college, own a business or retire.