The Jackson Public School District held a ribbon cutting ceremony for the new and improved Hughes Field on Thursday, March 2, 2023.
The district spent $6.9 million to add a new track and artificial turf field to the West Jackson gem. Ward 5 Councilman Vernon Hartley remembers running track at the field.
“This brings back a lot of memories. I tried to play football and Coach had me assigned as tailback because everytime I would run on the field, he’d say, ‘Get your tail back!’”
The field, located at 545 Ellis Avenue, houses a 5,000-seat stadium that is the home to the seven high schools and ten middle schools in JPS. In the fall, JPS hosts “fifteen to twenty varsity football games that average 2,000 spectators per game at Hughes Field.
“The field is also used for approximately 15 middle school football games that average 300 spectators per game,” stated JPS public relations. The facility is also open to local youth football leagues on weekends. In the winter, varsity soccer teams play. And in the spring, JPS track meets are held to the enjoyment of about 1,300 spectators.
“This new multi-million dollar athletic complex will get many of our children off the streets,” expressed Councilman Hartley. “This facility will provide them with exercise, focus their energies, discipline their bodies and their minds. It’ll train them to understand teamwork and the value of it. It’ll provide them with leadership skills. This is not just a Ward 5 facility but another tool to restore the city of Jackson.”
Hughes Field also received a newly paved parking lot, a new concession stand, ticket booth, and restrooms. “Our first class athletes should have first class facilities,” noted Jackson Mayor Chokwe Antar Lumumba. “JPS has a storied history of having some of the best athletes, not only in the state, but truly in this country and this world. It was sports that kept me close enough to the learning process that the light clicked on – and every student learns when that light clicks on that education is important to their future. This [restoration] is not only a representation of what our young people deserve but it’s a representation of how we keep them close to the process of learning.”
Superintendent Errick Greene spoke about the difficulties of getting the field restored during the COVID pandemic, including supply chain and staffing shortages, and with many infrastructure and water woes over the past few years. But throughout the challenges, progress is being made and will include a new softball and baseball field in the near future. And Greene stressed that “there’s no JPS without our community.”
Councilman Hartley also touched on the revitalization of the surrounding community and shared his vision for Ward 5, which serves a large part of West Jackson. “Small businesses are popping up. A $26 million senior center is being built on Highway 80. Homeowners are remodeling their homes and are determined to stay. The Capitol Street area is being restored to its former glory. Jackson Zoo and Livingston Park are standing strong with relentless support of the Zoo Area Progressive Partnership. Jim Hill and Provine High School are turning out exceptionally motivated graduates with millions in scholarships – Jim Hill’s Class of 2022 had $24 million in scholarships. That is something!”
Football and sports fans can visit https://www.jackson.k12.ms.us/Athletics for more information on middle and high school teams and athletic activities.