Two years and $14 million later, UT RecSports Complex opened on Friday to a crowd filled with students and local residents. However, many in the surrounding areas of Sutherland Avenue have conflicted feelings about UT's newest addition.
Resident Angela Miller said although she thinks the fields will be good for the community, she wishes the neighborhood could play a more significant role with the complex. Currently, it is only open to UT students, staff and faculty.
She said the community had more energy when apartments lined the site of the current fields. Controversy brewed when UT decided to raze the student housing that used to be at the site.
"There was a lot of kids playing, going up and down the trails," said Miller, a resident of the community for 45 years. "But now, there's not much going on."
Amy Midis acts as president of the nearby Forest Heights Homeowners Association. She told 10News local residents were hesitant about the fields at first, but for the most part, they have come to accept them.
Shahid Masood, owner and operator of Red Onion Pizza, said the removal of the Sutherland apartments caused a decrease of 40 percent in the business' revenue.
"Business was good when [the student] apartments were here," said Masood. "Now, it looks like three years, almost four years, [and] there's nothing coming out of there."
The decrease in business drove Strawberry Fields Amish Market to relocate to Peters Road in West Knoxville.
"I know that [the destruction of the student apartments] had a lot to do with it because there were people over there living, eating and buying dinner and all," said Robin Lane, owner of Strawberry Fields Market.
Although businesses with more history on Sutherland Avenue are hesitant, another business opening a new location on that road has high hopes for the future.
"We've always had a real high desire to move out west," said Simon Hall, Executive Chef of the Coop Café. "I think it will be great for our business."
The lunch spot, which is located in the former Strawberry Fields Market, hopes to open by October.