The Facility Features Two Multi-Purpose Fields, Pavilion And Concession Stand
BY O.J. EARLY
The Greeneville-Greene County Sports Complex, a dream to some for nearly two decades, formally opened Monday.
The more-than-a-half-million-dollar facility features two multi-purpose fields, a pavilion with restrooms, a concession stand, and a covered area with picnic tables.
The new recreation venue, which borders the Greene County Tennis Center on Hal Henard Road, hosted its first adult softball games last night following a ribbon-cutting ceremony.
"The main thing is, it gives the folks of Greeneville and Greene County a new facility," said Butch Patterson, director of the Greeneville Parks and Recreation Department.
Monday evening's ceremony included brief remarks from several local leaders, including County Mayor Alan Broyles, Greeneville Mayor W.T. Daniels and City Administrator Todd Smith.
Broyles and Daniels tossed out the game's first pitches.
The new Hal Henard Road complex is the first local sports facility built in decades, Patterson said.
Wayne Phillips, Parks and Recreation Advisory Board chairman, reminded those present how long new ballfields have been sought.
"We've been actively pursuing a sports complex since 1994," said Phillips, sports editor emeritus of The Greeneville Sun. "Finally, we've got a couple of nice new fields."
Discussions in local government about building a sports complex had been ongoing since at least 2005.
In 2008, Greeneville was awarded a $425,000 grant from the Tennessee Department of Environment and Conservation for the sports complex.
"So many people have been involved," Phillips said. "This has been a long time coming."
RECRUITING, ECONOMIC POTENTIAL
Some local leaders believe the new site will have a positive impact on the local economy, interviews by the Sun over the last year indicate.
"Having two additional fields like these to promote to prospective groups and add to our inventory is going to help Greeneville and Greene County," Greene County Partnership Tourism Director Tammy Kinser said in an August interview with the Sun.
"Our current inventory limited us on the amount of teams that we could host, therefore limiting our number of 'heads in beds,' as tourism directors relate to as our goal."
Kinser added, "I am excited to be able to work with the Parks and Recreation Department on future tournaments/championships that we can host at the new complex."
Adding new fields also allows the county to expand the current adult softball league, Patterson said.
The complex's path to completion hasn't been without snags.
Initial plans called for the site to open in August 2012.
"We had trouble with grass on some of the fields," Lisa Fisher, parks and recreation executive assistant, told the Sun last month.
"We attributed that to some of the sprays that might have been used when the fields were cornfields."
But, she added, "We solved that problem."
Inclement weather also slowed the process of getting the complex ready for use, Fisher said.
The bulk of funding for the project came through state grants. The Town of Greeneville and Greene County gave $50,000 apiece.