Smith-Wills Stadium, former home to professional baseball in Jackson (MS), will become the Hank Aaron Sports Academy, hosting youth and high-school play and tournaments.
Smith-Wills Stadium opened in 1975 as home of the Jackson Mets/Generals (Class AA; Texas League) from 1975-1999, before hosting the Jackson DiamondKats (independent; Texas-Louisiana League, 2000) and the Jackson Senators (independent; Central Baseball League, 2002-2005). It has been used in more recent years by Belhaven University’s baseball program, but the city had been debating whether to leave it open or demolish it to clear way for new development.
After a lease to a group that included Tim Bennett, an owner of the Biloxi Shuckers (Double-A South), the move was made to transform the ballpark into the first Hank Aaron Sports Academy. According to Bennett, the ballpark will be a “central location for education, training, practice and play for under-privileged and less fortunate youth in both recreational and travel baseball.” In addition, the ballpark will be home to the seven high-school baseball programs in Jackson, as well as providing instructional camps for youth by current and former Major League Baseball players along with other local and qualified instructors.
Image courtesy Bellhaven University.