By David Markham
The public is invited to attend two June ribbon cuttings to rededicate recently-refurbished JCPRD facilities.
The ribbon cuttings include a Wednesday, June 7, event for the Mid-America Sports Complex, 20000 Johnson Drive, Shawnee, beginning at 5:30 p.m., and a Saturday, June 24, event at the Helen S. Cuddy Rose Garden near the entrance of Antioch Park, 6501 Antioch Road, Merriam, beginning at 9 a.m.
“The June 7 ribbon cutting at Mid-America Sports Complex is the culmination of the three-year multi-phased renovation of the facility,” explained Superintendent of Recreation Shannon Sonnier. “Including the approval and planning processes, it’s closer to five years. While I am frequently at the facility, not everyone at the ribbon cutting event will have visited recently. I look forward to seeing their reaction to all of the facility’s great amenities and upgrades.”
“This will be an awesome event to celebrate the many involved and several years of planning, design, and phased developments to maximize programming impact,” added Executive Director Jeff Stewart. “This rededication will allow our community and many partners to celebrate what is now among the best recreational baseball and softball complexes in the county.”
This ribbon-cutting, which will take place in the facility’s new Capitol Federal Fan Zone area, will celebrate the completion of three phases of improvements to Mid-America Sports Complex, which got underway in October 2020.
“The renovations have allowed us to improve safety and remove barriers that will drastically improve the experience for all athletes and spectators,” Stewart said. “As a growing community, the improvements have increased our capacity – allowing us to serve more. The economic impacts will also be significant and are projected to triple (to about $24.4 million) once stabilized and following the completion of improvements scheduled to take place at Mid-America West Sports Complex. It’s projected that programming and rentals will cover all operating costs while yielding a net gain to be used to help maintain the facility for years to come.”
“MASC was popular prior to renovation, but it was a tired facility that did not reflect the quality that we expect at JCPRD,” Sonnier said. “It is now something that we can all be proud of, and the community will get to enjoy as a participant, as well as an asset that brings visitors far and wide to our county.”
What can participants expect at the June 7 event?
“While all ribbon cuttings have an element of excitement attached, this one is taking place at the Fan Zone,” Sonnier noted. “Yard games, lots of TV’s, and tasty food and beverage is a great way to spend an evening.”
“Additionally, there will be a lineup (pun intended) of individuals to share some brief remarks as we enjoy the new and improved facilities,” Stewart added. “Children are welcome and we will have some giveaways while supplies last. They’ll also enjoy the Mini America turf wiffle ball field, and baseball-themed playground.”
Originally built in 1991, MASC is located on about 70 acres in Western Shawnee. The complex has a total of 12 fields for adult softball, youth baseball, and youth softball. In addition the Mid-America West Sports Complex is also located nearby.
Improvements to MASC made over the past three years have included: installing artificial turf and replacing lights on all of the complex’s fields with LED lighting, replacing the complex’s main entry gate, replacement of existing restrooms and concession areas, accessibility improvements, construction of a new maintenance building, more improvements to parking areas and utilities. The new centrally-located Fan Zone includes concessions with covered seating areas, an umpires’ room, manager’s office, an outside BBQ cooker, ten hitting tunnels, and an age-appropriate playground for ages four to 12.
After a break of about a year, the first of another two phases will begin across the street at MAWSC.
“Mid-America West will experience very similar improvements, providing the same level of service at each of the two complexes,” Stewart said. “This includes new field turf, athletic lighting, concessions, restrooms, warmup areas, and more. Between the two complexes, when complete, JCPRD will offer 24 fully-renovated fields to support local programming and major events.”
“We will spend 2024 designing the first phase of improvements at MAWSC, which are slated for the fall of 2025,” Sonnier said. “West is a facility that is also heavily used, but tends to service more fastpitch play. We are excited that these changes will make us the premier destination in the region for hardball for everyone.”
Renovations to the Helen S. Cuddy Memorial Rose Garden began in August of 2022 and are nearly complete. A major goal of the project was to improve accessibility and to bring it into compliance with the Americans with Disabilities Act.
In addition to all-new rose plants, garden renovations include: improved accessible parking; enhanced pedestrian flow throughout the garden for all visitors; additional seating areas (including benches and a seat wall); new roses, seasonal plantings; renovations to the existing gazebo; a new shade pergola structure; which can serve as a small event space. Memorial plaques that were removed during the renovations will be reinstalled soon.
New north and south walkways are close to where the previous walkways were located, but new zigzagging walkways through the garden have been added to let patrons get closer to the plantings. A pergola has been added near the existing stone wall where the former fountain was located. It includes a cantilevered canopy, a stone seat wall, and new benches. The Rose Garden is a picturesque and very popular site for outdoor weddings. Reserve the gazebo online.
Planning for the rose garden improvements began in the winter of 2020 and involved opportunity for public input, including an online patron survey in June 2021. Park staff worked with consultants from Vireo, a Kansas City, Mo., based landscape architecture, planning, and design firm.
The rose garden was originally established in 1974 as a community project of the East Central Kansas Garden Clubs and in 1978 was named after Helen S. Cuddy, who was described as a person who “was dedicated to park beautification through her lifelong service and work with garden club projects.” The garden was completed in 1989, when it was said to have over 600 rose bushes. Cuddy died in 1997.
See more information and updates about this project.