Where Rockvale Wins:
- Bathroom Amenities
- General Walkability of the Grounds
I was at MTSU a week ago to help film the MCTC Steeple races and went to the restroom and was reminded there were only 1 stall and two urinals for public and athlete usage. At Rockvale, there were 8 stalls and 8 urinals. I can't speak to the ladies room but I can imagine the quantity was also an improvement. While there, I was also reminded of how crowded the narrow walkway from the stands to the athlete area gets when races start. People crowd the fence area to get a glimpse of the finish line while athletes, coaches, and parents have to walk single file behind them as the navigate between viewing area and team area.
Where MTSU Wins:
- Number of Horizontal Jumps Runways
- Viewability of outer lanes
As stated previously, the lack of horizontal jumps pits at Rockvale was the most glaring to begin with and the hardest to overcome when competition began. While this alone may be reason to return to MTSU, what has always dumbfounded me about the execution of the state meet at MTSU is the pits can jump in both directions and even if the wind is significantly in the face of jumpers they will still jump into the wind. That has nothing to do with the venue but I thought I'd point that out.
If you are there in the morning to watch the field events you are able to view the competition from the stands. Having the pits between the stands and the track give about a 30 foot clearance between lane 9 of the track and the front of the stands. At Rockvale, runners in lane 7 and 8 were right up against the fencing and as most people crowded the rail were likely not even seen by those behind them. At MTSU, if people are standing on the rail, those viewing behind can likely still see all participants in the races. Also, as pointed out earlier, at MTSU, when the sun goes down, the stands are in the shade as the sun will set behind the east facing stadium. At Rockvale, the main stands were facing west directly into the sun as it set.
Where there's little difference:
- Track Surface
- Team Area
Both surfaces are rubber with similar thickness. It's not like we went from Vanderbilt, which has MONDO, to a full inch of cushioned rubber.
On the team area, sure, you could give a little edge to MTSU's practice football grass being well manicured and groomed but you could also give a little edge to Rockvale for having stands that could house teams that didn't a need a full tent set up underneath. Rarely at MTSU do teams camp out under the stands but at Rockvale there were plenty who opted for the aluminum provided protection over bringing their own tents.
Even with the construction widening of the highway after you exited I-24, getting to and from Rockvale was not a headache. It's not bad to get to MTSU either.
As it pertains to location, they're both in Murfreesboro. I personally thought Rockvale was easier to get to but when you're comparing 3 Hours and 30 minutes to 3 hours and 40 minutes coming from Knoxville I'm not sure it matters.