Johnson City to cut ribbon on new Winged Deer athletic complex
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JOHNSON CITY, Tenn. (WJHL) – After more than five years of purchasing, planning and construction, a major expansion at Winged Deer Park is set to open early in March.

The City of Johnson City has invited the public to join staff and the city’s board of commissioners on Friday, March 8 at 1 p.m. to cut the ribbon on the new James K. Ellis Athletic Complex at the park. The complex is located at 277 Championship Lane.

The complex is named for former Johnson City Parks and Recreation Director James Ellis, who retired in February 2023 and passed away a few months later.

To kick off the grand opening ceremony, Johnson City Mayor Todd Fowler will throw a first pitch.

The 37-acre site next to the existing park was purchased in 2018, and athletic complex expansion schematics were approved in 2020. The project exceeded $17 million in costs and was paid for using Capital Improvement Plan funding, according to the city.

The complex features four new ballfields and two synthetic turf fields for soccer, which the city stated will bring the total number of playing fields at Winged Deer to nine diamonds and nine rectangular fields.

In addition, the James K. Ellis Athletic Complex will include sports lighting, a warm-up area, a playground, a concession stand and a walking trail.

The expansion was initially scheduled to be completed by May 2023. However, the project faced setbacks after crews found the quality of the soil at the site was lacking, Johnson City Assistant City Manager Steve Willis told News Channel 11 in June 2023. Weather also impacted crews’ ability to complete work during 2023.

On Friday, Willis stated in a release that the complex will be a boon for Johnson City.

“This expansion is a game changer for Johnson City,” said Willis. “I am grateful to see the successful completion of a project that had its beginnings under the leadership of James Ellis during his tenure as the director of Parks and Recreation and championed by key stakeholders within the City. Their vision for what this park could become is being realized today with softball, baseball and soccer games scheduled through 2024.”

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