LOUISVILLE, Ky. (WDRB) -- Big improvements have arrived for one of west Louisville's most popular events just two weeks before it begins. 

Dirt Bowl organizers say the new basketball courts at Shawnee Park are going to make a huge difference for this year's event.

Mayor Greg Fischer and others were on hand to dedicate the Dirt Bowl basketball courts Tuesday morning. This will be the 48th year for the basketball tournament that has become a tradition in Shawnee Park. 

"People will come down and feel sense of belonging down here," said Dirt Bowl commissioner Neal Robertson. "You'll see that people are putting interest where you live at."

Many of the city’s and region’s leading hoops figures -- including Darrell Griffith, Tony Kimbro, Artis Gilmore, Louie Dampier and Derek Anderson – have competed in the tournament. The Dirt Bowl has also been recognized as cultural and social summertime institution in west Louisville.

"It's a sense of pride to me cause I'm from down here so I love it," said Aaron Thompson who frequents the courts. "It's a sense of pride, it lets me know they're (the city) looking at us."

The improvements to the court include a new surface, scoreboard and seating. But this is just one part of a much larger plan for $2.5 million worth of improvements for the park. 

MSD has is currently building a new water basin in the park and making other improvements,including a new open-air pavilion and restrooms, as well as the restoration of the lily pond and Ball House -- the future home of the West Louisville Outdoor Recreation Initiative. Those improvements are expected to be complete in 2018. 

"A lot of this stuff that we've been wanting to get done but haven't had the resources or funding to do will now be getting done as a result of this project, so that's a great thing," Fischer said. 

This year's Dirt Bowl tournament starts June 17.

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