Visalia's River Way Sports Park is expanding


River Way Sports Park is proving to be one of Visalia's most successful parks, attracting retailers and out-of-towners. Now, the city council has just approved more than $1 million to develop another six acres of the park.

On a warm day like Tuesday, Visalia's River Way Sports Park is full of families taking advantage of its many playgrounds. This year alone, the city has more than 15 soccer tournaments scheduled on its 10 soccer fields. Even the 2011 Cal Ripkin World Series was held at the park. Now, the city has just approved the park's third phase which will include an outdoor theater, plus more picnic tables, trees and playgrounds.

Visalia Parks and Recreation Director Vince Elizondo said, "We're excited about the opportunity to showcase movies in the park perhaps have concerts farmers market those types of things."

Since its opening in 2007, the sports park has become an attraction not just for people who live in Visalia.

Elizondo said, "It's part of our economic driver as well the sports park brings a lot of teams from outside the area they stay locally in hotels eat at our restaurants and that's a good thing that's something we like to see."

In fact city officials say River Way Sports Park has helped them bring in nearby retailers and fast food restaurants. Many first inquired when the park first opened.

Elizondo explained, "Wanting to know what the next phase will have, what the new fields are going to be when is this phase going to open so it's interesting some of these retailers are interested in what's going on at the sports park."

People in Visalia who visited the park Tuesday are excited to hear about the parks expansion.

Brandy Ellis said, "It's very large and it's got the water and it's got a lot of things we can do here with the kids."

Officials will be breaking ground on phase three in April and expect to have it all complete in September.

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