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Icearium management opens $2.3 million ‘phase 2’ complex
Indoor soccer, inline hockey, flag football, lacrosse, volleyball and basketball available on two play surfaces

More than four years after Basil Skelton officially turned his Phase I ice facility vision into a reality when Icearium opened, Skelton and company are attempting to fill another Knox area sports void. Skelton’s Phase 2, a $2.3 million facility originally planned as another Ice rink adjacent to Icearium off Watt Road in Dixie Lee Junction, has taken the form of a non-ice, multi-indoor sport complex.

Connected to Icearium on its east side, the 48,000 square foot facility is now operational, with construction completed earlier this month after breaking ground late last summer.

With a pair of indoor playing surfaces, indoor sports offered to youth and adult alike are soccer, inline hockey, flag football, lacrosse, volleyball and basketball.

“We’re pretty much on schedule,” said Stephen Clough, general manager of Cool Sports, Home of the Icearium, LLC.


Of the two sports fields, “the smaller soccer surface, which has the [artificial] turf that will be permanently down,” is 124-by-60 feet, Clough said. “The bigger surface that we’ll use for inline hockey, which we’re putting down new turf for,” is 180-by-80.

Portable surfaces make the larger court more flexible, with a base “blue tile court, so we have a Sport-Court that’s down full-time,” Clough said, “and we can play basketball or volleyball on it. And then we’ll be able to put the turf down. Right now, in March, we have enough soccer books to where it’s just going to be turf on both fields.”

Flag football and lacrosse are also turf sports that can be utilized on the turf surface, Clough added.

As a regular feature, “the larger surface will have turf on it Monday through Thursday,” the GM said. “And then Friday, Saturday and Sunday, we’ll have the Sport-Court to do other sports on.”

Clough said the smaller sports field — basically for youth soccer use for children age 10-and-under — can be also be used for personal training purposes, “sprinting, stretching, that kind of stuff.”

The smaller area also features a highly durable plexi-glass making up about “three-quarters” of the field’s retaining wall.

The new facility brings soccer back out of the cold — or from non-existence — and creates “a prime indoor season December, January and February” that begins as early as “late October” into “early March,” Clough said.

As for Phase 2’s non-ice direction, “Basil [Skelton] as the owner, he did some research and talked to a lot of people in the community he’s well-connected with and thought that this would be the best serving for the community,” Clough said.

Nikki Copeland, assistant general manager and head of figure skating for Cool Sports/Icearium, said the change of direction was finalized “about two years ago.”

As for leagues, “We’re hoping the inline is going to be a feeder program for our ice hockey, that’s really what our goal is,” Clough said, adding that inline is a more “wide open” game than its ice cousin without “body checking” ... “to give kids and adults the opportunity to play both if they choose to.”

Clough pointed to the demise of Thunderplex, a multi-sport indoor facility off Lovell Road that closed iearlier this decade, as a factor in redirecting Phase 2.

“It left a void,” Clough said, adding Knox County used to be an inline hockey power before Thunderplex’s closing. “There’s a real need for a place .... It kinda made sense.”

Copeland added, “Inline hockey players haven’t had a place to go since the Thunderplex shut down.”

If your just want to come and watch your children, boyfriend or girlfriend play, Clough said “gymnasium-like bleachers that kinda extend from the wall and collapse back in” are planned in the near future on one side the bigger field.

“We’re probably looking at about three hundred capacity in the bleachers themselves,” Clough said.

“And we’re looking at doing the same on the ice side, because we definitely need to have some bleachers there as we bring in bigger events, whether it be A-A-U Junior Olympics or skating shows or hockey tournaments, you definitely need seating for your customers.”

The smaller soccer field will have a set of “tilt-and-roll” bleachers, Clough added.

Concerning leagues and playing availability, “We’re technically starting our programs March fifteenth,” Copeland said. “Soccer right now is probably going to be our main focus while we try to build inline teams and volleyball teams, and flag football and lacrosse teams. Unless someone were to come forward and already have teams available, then we’d set up scheduling for that.”

Clough said Cool Sports/Icearium will sponsor inline hockey teams and leagues, both adult and youth, including “youth hockey clinics for inline.”

Also, “We’ve already got time sold to Farragut High School soccer team,” Clough added. “The Knoxville Football Club will have a strong presence here.”

Copeland said Smoky Mountain Soccer Club is also on board, adding they’ve “already had plenty of interest from lacrosse coaches and lacrosse teams in the area.”

She added that Cool Sports/Icearium’s recreational in-house leagues “won’t start until the fall — at least for the youth. We will be building adult teams as we go.”

A sports bar area rising above both fields so patrons can view action at or near the bar, will feature beer, wine and juices — with food available to be ordered and delivered from the Icearium concession area, Clough said, estimating its seating capacity at 120.


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