Pig Auction "Yes"; Prep Wresting Championship "No"
Metro Nashville's Williamson County Agricultural Expo is many things to many people, but for Ben Reichel who helps coach the Red Bank Lions wrestling team, it leaves a lot to be desired as a wrestling locale. "Typical venue is an arena, that's what is meant for a wrestling tournament, not an agricultural expo where they have livestock shows or a pig auction, those type of things," says Reichel.
"What they do is put tarps down on the dirt ground, which obviously, they've had livestock there, with animal feces."
But its not only animal waste that concerns Reichel. "There's nowhere for the 70 referees to shower, there are no locker rooms for the 500 athletes to shower or change and it's a 3 to 4 day event."
The T-S-S-A-A's wrestling championship for many years was held here in Chattanooga, first at Maclellan gym on the UTC campus and then more recently, at McKenzie Arena, today, many wonder why the venue change to Williamson County was needed in the first place.
"Its the only venue that we know of in the state of Tennessee that can host the size of the event we have right now," explains TSSAA's Assistant Executive Director Mark Reeves told Channel 3 by phone Wednesday afternoon.
"If our school people were telling us we can't stand to come because of the smell of livestock is overpowering than we'd be listening," says Reeves, who discounted the complaints as few and far between among state wrestling coaches.
But Reeves did agree the lack of shower facilities for both referees and wrestlers is a concern to the organization. "We've had a number of folks that have expressed that concern and that is warranted," admits Reeves.
"Not having showers there is kind of mysterious especially when skin disease is an issue with athletes, especially wrestling, the best way to prevent skin infections is to shower immediately afterward, " chimes Reichel.
Reichel began a Facebook page titled "Bye Bye Cow Palace" to voice his concerns about the state wrestling championship locale. Some suggested he contact Governor Haslam's office which he did, "and I was surprised I got a call back yesterday," said Reichel. "They were absolutely dumbfounded that this event was being held in this arena."
Tim Morgan, President of Chattanooga's Sports and Events Committee, said late Wednesday that "we would welcome it (TSSAA's wrestling tournament ) back at any moment" and adds that he is doing his best to position Chattanooga for it and similar sporting events.