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08 Oct 2019

Morgan's Wonderland expanding with disability-friendly sports facility
BY Andy Knaggs

A rendering of how the entrance to the sports facility will look

A rendering of how the entrance to the sports facility will look
photo: Morgan's Wonderland

Morgan's Wonderland, the completely wheelchair accessible theme park in San Antonio, Texas, has announced plans to build a new "ultra-accessible" sports complex in the city, providing 8,000sq ft (2,440sq m) of covered space for wheelchair sports.

The US$3m (€2.7m, £2.45m) Morgan's Wonderland Sports complex will offer fitness and competition for athletes with different abilities. It will be situated on land leased from the North East Independent School District, and will mirror the inclusive mission of Morgan's Wonderland and its next-door splash park, Morgan's Inspiration Island.

Laser technology will be used in the pouring of 2,000 cubic yards of concrete at the facility to ensure the playing surfaces will be completely level. The concrete will also be tinted to minimise heat from the sun.

Sports available will be basketball, softball, baseball, football, soccer, pickleball and tennis. The facilities will also include special LED lighting for visually-impaired athletes, wheelchair-accessible restrooms, water fountains, offices and fencing to keep balls in play.

The new sports facility will be used to host events such as the Special Olympics Texas' Summer Games and will allow Morgan's Wonderland to expand its STRAPS (South Texas Regional Adaptive and Para Sports) programme, which it first unveiled in 2012.

"STRAPS has been a great success, currently involving several hundred athletes in a dozen sports, and its growth now requires a more spacious venue," said Gordon Hartman, co-founder of The Gordon Hartman Family Foundation, which spearheaded the park's creation. "For example, we've had to play wheelchair softball in our parking lot, but Morgan's Wonderland Sports will give us plenty of room for multiple sports."

Hartman's 26-year-old daughter with special needs, Morgan, continues to be the inspiration for the expanding portfolio of attractions.

In fact, the announcement of Morgan's Wonderland Sports is the second new expansion to be unveiled this year. In April, a plan for an ultra-accessible summer camp-type experience called Morgan's Wonderland Camp was introduced.

To be set in a 102-acre site on the northern outskirts of San Antonio, Morgan's Wonderland Camp will be a year-round experience for those with and without special needs. The US$28m (€25.5m, £22.9m) project will cater for up to 525 campers of all ages and abilities on day, weekend or week-long camp sessions.

Facilities will include a multi-platform zipline, horse riding, archery, hiking trails, a nature farm, multiple pools, a treehouse with panoramic views, an outdoor fire pit for camp gatherings, a camp store and a health centre.

A charitable contribution of US$15m (€13.65m, £12.27m) from Valero Energy Corp will help the camp experience come to fruition. Both this and the sports facility are expected to open in 2020.



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