Young local and regional basketball players strengthen their skills inside the 32,000 square-foot facility on 103 Smoky Mountain Place in Elizabethton. And while the complex continues hosting top-notch talent, there’s also a movement to branch out and offer more to the community than four climate-controlled basketball courts for tournaments.
"We’re always looking and searching for ideas to get more volume in here," said Dale Bowling, manager of East Tennessee Sports Complex.
Facility staffers are busy booking diverse groups needing a lot of space to host their desired events. Bowling says they’ve hosted some volleyball games, a cheerleading expo, indoor soccer practice, concerts and even a holiday party with inflatables. Birthday celebrations are also reserved at the East Tennessee Sports Complex.
"This facility is such an asset with the availability to roll the goals away and host almost anything," he said.
In addition to the four courts, players have access to four new team dressing rooms. Other amenities include HDTV’s that line the wall, as well as concessions and an arcade. Sets of bleachers surround each court to complete the perfect atmosphere for spectators, with something for all ages.
"It’s just a fun environment for everyone," Bowling said.
Typically, those who book the East Tennessee Sports Complex are hosting a basketball-related event or want the massive space the facility offers. However, Bowling says he wants people to look at more diverse uses, even if it’s on a smaller scale. For example, complex owners Michael and Tammy Whitehead recently purchased a host of spin bikes in anticipation of classes being held there. They’re also looking for Zumba or other fitness instructors who’d like to use the complex to hold classes.
And while there are plenty of opportunities to expand, the East Tennessee Sports Complex will never stray from its most frequent users - hard-working, dedicated basketball players.
"There is a wealth of basketball talent in these local athletes, but also the coaches as far as their ability to teach player development," Bowling said. "Before this facility was here, people would have to travel to Knoxville to compete at a higher level."
The East Tennessee Sports Complex recently hosted a middle school basketball tournament and weekend tournaments are ongoing. Plus, they continue to keep the doors open to teams in need of practice space. Team camps are held in the summer and about 400 youth play in seasonal leagues for ages 5 and up. There’s such a variety of skill level that teams are able to be paired up with an even match.
Bowling says he’s heard the complex called a "diamond in the rough" and finds that people are still discovering this sports mecca that’s geared toward school-age users. Teams from the Carolinas, Georgia, and even as far as Florida, have made the drive to Elizabethton for competitive basketball in a pristine facility with a positive environment where four games can be held simultaneously.
"We hope we can provide them the opportunity to play some great local talent in a wonderful facility," Bowling said. "People are surprised to find that it’s here and impressed by the setup."
The East Tennessee Sports Complex has been in existence for about six years, but it underwent an ownership and name change in 2010. Part of the new vision for the complex’s future is to replace the property’s non-regulation baseball fields with an RV park.
This exciting new addition will allow families and teams to travel and stay at the facility for extended periods of time for camps and tournaments. The new bathhouse is almost complete and Bowling says he’s already receiving calls from anxious campers ready to reserve a spot.
It takes a small army to keep the East Tennessee Sports Complex running smoothly. Manager Rikki Baughman keeps the staff prepared to handle the concession stand lines and officiate games with accuracy.
For a complete schedule of events, as well as detailed directions to the complex, visit www.etsportscomplex.com. For booking information, call 543-6730 or 791-2324.