It won’t be long before University of Tennessee students are enjoying the new and long-awaited RecSports fields on Sutherland Avenue.
The forty-acre complex will open early in the spring semester. The two-year construction project is on track to wrap up in mid-January, just in time to host the full gamut of intramurals and student activities. More than 10,000 students participate in UT’s sport clubs and intramural programs each year.
Funded solely through student activity fees, the new complex will significantly improve intramural programming and provide much more flexibility and convenience in scheduling of games and practices for sport clubs.
Most games are now played on the 2.5-acre RecSports field, while others are scheduled off campus due to space limitations.
The new complex will have an open-air seating pavilion and a central building which will serve as a field and equipment house, three sand volleyball courts, two softball fields, and eight multi-purpose fields that can be used for flag football, lacrosse, soccer, and other sports. The complex also will have plenty of parking and terraced seating for spectators on several fields.
Student Life Vice Chancellor Tim Rogers said that having natural and artificial turf will provide more flexibility to play intramurals and tournaments year round when inclement weather hits.
“This has been a great need for a long time. We are pleased that our students will soon get to enjoy the new complex,” Rogers said.
RecSports Director Rex Pringle anticipates the new complex will spark additional growth in the number of student teams, particularly in flag football, soccer, softball, and sand volleyball.
The pavilion, the central building, and the utility/maintenance building are now being built and artificial turf is being installed. The complex connects to the city’s Third Creek Greenway and is just three miles from campus by car or by way of the greenway.
Rogers said the university has worked with students for more than twelve years on how best to address the need for field space. More than twenty-five sites were evaluated before the site was chosen in 2009. Because the campus is bordered by downtown Knoxville, Cumberland Avenue, and Fort Sanders along with the Tennessee River, railroads, and major interstates, it was difficult to find a large parcel of flat land near the campus.