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Choccolocco Park: Oxford rolled out the red carpet for its guests at last week's state softball tournament. 56 teams came to town to utilize Choccolocco Park.

Tallassee and Elmore County were represented there and what an atmosphere!

Allow me to give credit to all the fans. They were fantastic. No matter the situation, the enthusiasm never wavered.

Choccolocco Park has five softball fields and a signature softball stadium. It also has four baseball fields with a signature baseball stadium. They have soccer fields, a track and field facility, plus offer disc golf and kayaking with walking trails.

The price tag was $35 million when the facility came to fruition in 2016. Now the city is reaping the rewards.

Oxford has hosted numerous events in that five-year span including softball and baseball at all levels as well as college tournaments.

Oxford is a growing area. It's located right off of Interstate 20 with Mount Cheaha as a backdrop. The boom in business is due in part to the move to build this recreational complex.

Five years ago, the hotels that have sprouted in the perimeter of the park were not yet a thought. Now they're booked - at a cost of $200 per night just last week.

Oxford's population in 1970 was 4,361. Tallassee had a population of 4,809 that year (about the same as it is today). Oxford has grown by leaps and bounds over the past five decades. There are now over 21,000 residents.

In 1970 Wetumpka's population was 3,912. They now have more than 8,000. They also have a new recreational complex with baseball and softball fields.

How about Millbrook? There were 2,382 residents there in 1970. They now have over 15,000. Millbrook is investing $35 million in parks and recreation. The "Fields of Seventeen Springs" will soon be a reality.

As for Montgomery getting the tournament back at Lagoon Park, it might be a long shot. There is work to do. Newer is many times better.

Montgomery is centrally-located - moreso than Oxford. It is bigger too with more accommodations.

The Capital City has been able to retain the high school baseball championships that were played there last week. But if not for Riverwalk Stadium, I think the AHSAA might be shopping that tournament around.

When we were packing up to leave Oxford's Choccolocco Park on Wednesday, the park director thanked us for coming. "We want you here," he said. I hope we get to go back next year.