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County proposes new BMX facility, athletic fields; Public meeting June 1

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Knoxville, Tenn. — Knox County leaders will hold a public meeting today, June 1 from 6 to 8 p.m. in the South-Doyle Middle School auditorium to talk about a $750,000 redevelopment project at South-Doyle Middle School designed to create new athletic fields and a state-of-the art BMX track that will be unique to the sport and the rest of the country.

For months now, members of the Knox County Parks and Recreation Department have met with key stakeholders, including coaches, parents and school representatives to talk about the proposal.

However, officials still want additional community input before proceeding. The plan also will need buy-in from the Knox County Commission.

“BMX is seeing a surge in popularity and organized BMX events are having millions of dollars in economic impact on cities around our region, like Louisville, Kentucky and Rock Hill, South Carolina,” said Knox County Mayor Tim Burchett. “These events are putting heads in beds, diners in restaurants and shoppers in stores – and there’s no reason we can’t attract these events and add to the outdoor tourism momentum that already exists in South Knoxville.”

The overall proposed development would include major improvements to the two athletic fields on the campus. The BMX track would then replace the current football field and serve as a great addition to the Urban Wilderness and the area’s “outdoor city” identity.

The project, which the county would cover in its 2018 fiscal year capital improvement plan, could be up and running by fall 2018.

The track would be the only one in the country to reside inside a middle school stadium.

“We build fun,” said Knox County Parks and Recreation Senior Director Doug Bataille. “And what could be more fun than racing bikes around a track, playing football and kicking the soccer ball around – all on the same campus at the same time.”

The meeting will give local leaders a chance to publicly address any potential concerns, including security and ownership, and answer any questions.

The new fields would include restrooms, concessions and bleachers. The athletic track currently inside the stadium would stay.

BMX would provide area youth healthy, structured recreation events in which participants competitively race bicycles. The focus will provide them opportunities to increase physical abilities, raise physical endurance and participate in fundraisers for a non-profit cause.

The track will also attract participants and visitors from surrounding cities, counties and states and could provide a significant economic impact to our community.

BMX is one of the fastest growing sports in the country and gained Olympic status in 2008 when it was added to the 2008 Olympic Summer Games in Beijing, China. There is currently no BMX track within 60 miles of Knoxville.

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