With the Tennessee Secondary Schools Athletics Association decision to move Spring Fling to Murfreesboro and Middle Tennessee, area athletes are hoping they have an advantage against the competition.
By a majority vote, the TSSAA picked the city and area over Chattanooga, Memphis and a four-city rotation that included Chattanooga, Memphis, Nashville and Knoxville to be the host of the springs sports championships from 2006-08.
Memphis had been the host the past three years. Chattanooga had hosted the event its first nine years.
"I think its great," said Blackman senior tennis standout Cali Caffey, who has been to the state tournament the past two years and whose older sister L.K. was also a state tournament veteran.
"I liked Chattanooga, because it was easier to go there rather than driving four hours to get to Memphis," added Caffey. "We have the facilities (in Murfreesboro), and I like the courts (at MTSU). It's a lot closer ,and it'll be easier to get ready. It'll definitely be a bigger advantage to me."
Tennis tournaments will be played at MTSU, while s****r is slated to be played at the city's new complex which is scheduled to be ready by the May event. Softball will be played at McKnight Park. Baseball championship games will be played at MTSU, while other tournament games — seven other parks are needed — could be played both inside and outside the county.
City, university and TSSAA officials are hopeful track and field will be at MTSU, though the facility needs an upgrade in seating capacity, lighting and restroom facilities. If it is not ready by the 2006 Spring Fling, track and field will likely be moved to Nashville.
"I think it makes more sense (to have it in Middle Tennessee)," said La Vergne track and field coach Al Evans. "For schools in East and West Tennessee it was either a 'Hay-day' or traveling to Timbuktu.
"Germantown Houston and Cordova wound up running away (with track and field). They were familiar (with the facility) and had no travel time. East Tennessee teams struggled some and some didn't make much effort trying (to get to state).
"I think it's a location that everyone has a better chance and parents can come watch without having to make a huge trip."
TSSAA Executive Director Ronnie Carter said location was a factor, but not the only deciding factor in bringing the event to Murfreesboro. He said the quality of facilities, along with location, and the TSSAA's long-running relationship with the city and Murfreesboro provided the reasoning in his recommending to the board moving the event.
"Location was a major piece (of our staff recommendation)," Carter said. "Sites are always going to be the thing that drives it first. Site and facilities was a major piece. Location was a major piece and the thing that makes it raise its head higher is when everything else starts getting equal. If everything's equal (from all the proposals), our recommendation is going to be to stay in the middle of the state."