UT researchers propose $43 million sports complex for turf studies

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KNOXVILLE (WATE) – Build it and they will come – that’s what UT turf researchers hope for. They’re proposing a $43 million plan that will include a sports complex to ultimately fund more turf studies.

What looks like a big place to study grass could actually turn into a huge revenue source for East Tennessee.

“If we could build the vision of the sports complex, just one basketball tournament weekend would generate $3 million of Knox County or Blount County revenue to the area,” said John Sorochan, UT Institute of Agriculture, Turf Science.

The University of Tennessee wants to build a new research center that will include a huge revenue generating sports complex, as well as research opportunities for state of the art turf and field studies.

UT has been studying turf for more than a decade, but now the university wants to apply that research to players.The idea is that players of all ages will be able to come out and try all different kinds of turf so they would know, depending on what field they were playing on, if they needed to adjust equipment or even wear a different type of shoe on that field.

“Let’s say Eric Berry can come back home to Knoxville ,knowing his schedule next year, and he can look at all the different surfaces that he’ll play next year and find out what shoes and footwear and how to perform on each surface before the game,” said Sorochan.

The complex wouldn’t just be for professional athletes. Players of all levels and ages would be able to use the facility and people involved in local sports think that’s a huge draw.

“For the local community itself, you could have kids who could come play, use the facility, be tested. So who knows, Knoxville could have the next world class athlete in each of the sport centers targeted,” said Knoxville Soccer Academy Director Derek Broadley.

So far, this is just a proposal. UT is still looking for partners and seeking funding.

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