A ribbon is cut to honor the completion of the Morgan's Wonderland Sports complex.
A ribbon is cut to honor the completion of the Morgan's Wonderland Sports complex. Credit: Bonnie Arbittier / San Antonio Report

Local dignitaries and representatives of nonprofit Morgan’s Wonderland gathered on Tuesday to mark the completion of the organization’s sports complex with a ribbon-cutting ceremony.

The $4 million complex, announced in October 2019, will provide fitness, recreation, and competition for athletes with different abilities. Its 3 acres offer two baseball or softball fields, five tennis courts, 20 pickleball courts, a football field, volleyball court, basketball court, and an 8,000-square-foot covered pavilion with a separate stage to be used for special events and fundraisers.

“This $4 million complex is the newest member of Morgan’s Wonderland family of ultra-accessible, fully inclusive venues,” said Gordon Hartman, founder of Morgan’s Wonderland said.

Hartman also announced that the complex will be the new headquarters for Special Olympics Texas, a privately funded, nonprofit organization that is dedicated to encouraging and empowering people with intellectual disabilities through sport and fitness. 

Special Olympics Texas (SOTX) decided to move its headquarters from Austin to San Antonio after seeing how successful the Morgan’s Wonderland-hosted 2019 Special Olympics Texas Summer Games had been. 

SOTX canceled the 2020 Summer Games due to the pandemic, but SOTX CEO Tim Martin said there are high hopes for the 2021 Summer Games that will offer greater and inclusive participation opportunities for the high school athletes.

“Our 60,000-plus participants throughout Texas look at this as a beacon for Texas,” Martin said. “It is a chance for us to really spread the inclusion movement. In 2021 we’re hoping to have the greatest Summer Games ever.”

Morgan’s Wonderland Sports complex will also house South Texas Regional Adaptive and Paralympic Sports – a service that offers several sports programs for athletes with physical disabilities and visual impairments to participate in – and Club Morgan, a new program developed with the YMCA of Greater San Antonio that connects people of varying abilities with pals that are also interested in sports, recreation, and friendship.

The Morgan’s Wonderland team and Martin were joined by San Antonio Mayor Ron Nirenberg, City Councilman Clayton Perry (D10), Bexar County Commissioner Tommy Calvert (Pct. 4), and Dr. Sean Maika, superintendent of the North East Independent School District, in marking the occasion. 

From left, Councilman Clayton Perry (D10), Morgan’s Wonderland mascot Joy, and co-founder of Morgan’s Wonderland Gordon Hartman celebrate the official ribbon-cutting ceremony of Morgan’s Wonderland Sports. Credit: Bonnie Arbittier / San Antonio Report

Nirenberg said Hartman has also been working with City Hall to make it more accessible to people with different abilities. 

“[Hartman’s vision] is going to be enshrined in the heart of our city very soon as we unveil the improvements and renovation of our City Hall,” Nirenberg said. “You will notice that as you walk into the brand-new City Hall, starting hopefully by the end of the year [or] maybe early next year, that now it is a fully accessible entrance to the people’s house. That was made possible by the vision of Gordon Hartman.”

Linda and Lindsey Moharam, mother and daughter, had just been approved to be volunteers at Morgan’s Wonderland earlier this year, but then the park shut down because of the pandemic. Linda said they were looking forward to the new sports complex, which she said would open up opportunities for special-needs adults and children to participate in activities they might not have had the chance to otherwise.

“We’re ready for [Morgan’s Wonderland] to reopen,” she said.

Hartman hopes to hold a grand opening in 2021 along with the reopening of Morgan’s Wonderland, set to be closed for the rest of 2020 due to the pandemic. The sports complex will open in stages to follow guidelines from local health and city officials.

Samantha Ruvalcaba, who grew up in San Antonio, is a Shiner intern and junior at St. Mary's University studying international and global studies with a minor in communications.