One week prior to the start of the 21st annual Spring Fling, the state’s high school athletics association is looking at other site options to play the boys soccer state tournament.
TSSAA assistant director Mark Reeves traveled around Rutherford County on Monday attempting to find a “plan B” other than the $13 million Richard Siegel Soccer Complex after a rough winter combined with soccer club play on the field have left the fields in rough shape.
“They are not in the best of shape,” Reeves said. “We are exploring other options if there are other venues that would be better if we had to go somewhere else.
“We have to do everything we can to explore that option.”
The soccer complex, like several area high school football fields and golf courses, had a severe winter kill the Bermuda grass due to the extreme cold temperatures in the Midstate. That combined with regular soccer club play on the fields have left severe dead spots on the fields.
“It’s the worst we’ve ever seen it,” said Thomas Laird, the athletic superintendent for the Murfreesboro Parks and Recreation Department. “There is significant turf loss.
“The grass is growing slowly. We’re trying to water and fertilize it. We need some warm, warm weather and a miracle.”
Richard Siegel Soccer Complex opened in October 2005 and is located on Cherry Lane at Memorial Boulevard. It features 15 fields on 132 acres.
The soccer facility has been described as one of the best in the South. In 2010, it was host to the US Youth Soccer National Presidents Cup. In 2011, the complex was the host to the US Youth Soccer Region 3 Championships.
“Normally, the complex is in pristine condition,” Reeves said. “It’s just one of those things that nobody can really control. We are just looking for all of the best options.”
Laird said the parks department knew there would be some issues because of the extreme cold temperatures. But they didn’t realize it would be this bad until the temperatures began to warm up and the Bermuda grass began to slowly sprout up, or not grow at all.
“We knew we were going to have some weather kill by pulling samples,” Laird said. “We didn’t know it would be so severe. You don’t know where the top soil may be thin, or where there may be limestone underneath. There are so many different variables. There is no way to explain where it died and where it lived.”
Reeves said the state tournament, which features Class A/AA and Class AAA in Division I and Class A and Class AA in Division II, uses Fields 1-4 for quarterfinal and semifinal games. The championship field is used for the title games. That, though, could change if it meant getting teams on the best fields possible.
Reeves said the championship field could also be used prior to the title game if the tournament remains at the parks’ facility. Laird said the parks department top-dressed and rolled Field 2 on Monday. The parks department and TSSAA will examine that field today and decide their next move. Laird said Field 10 may be used as it is in better shape than other fields.
Laird said the parks department plans on closing the soccer complex for two months this summer while they sprig areas to re-grow grass. Laird said shutting down the main complex is typical, but the entire soccer complex is not normally closed.
Laird acknowledged that the usage in the park didn’t help the condition of the fields, but that wasn’t an option.
“Essentially, our soccer park is for our citizens,” he said. “We have 1,500 kids that play soccer. “Ideally, we wouldn’t put anyone on the fields until Spring Fling. But that doesn’t make sense. What we have to do is take the knowledge from this season and use it for the future.”