After years of study and a focus on the Thermal Plant site for a new ballpark, Nashville is seeking community input regarding alternative ballpark locations for the Nashville Sounds (Class AAA; Pacific Coast League), providing a breath of fresh air to the proceedings.
It's no secret the present and past owners of the Sounds had focused their new-ballpark efforts on a riverfront site with plenty of development potential, cycling through several architects and development firms in the process.
Now, though, the city is taking a more deliberative approach to the new-ballpark issue. The former Sulphur Dell site has been mentioned prominently as the potential new-ballpark site, though there are plenty of issues (parking, state of the surrounding neighborhood) with that site as well, nostalgia aside. (Sulphur Dell was the longtime home to baseball in Nashville; many fans still remember days at that ballpark.)
Last fall the Sounds started working with University of Tennessee College of Architecture graduate students and the Nashville Civic Design Center on alternative ballpark sites. The results of that work is now on display at the Center, and officials there are hoping the proposals will spur further discussions about potential ballpark sites.
There's a certain science to how ballpark sites are evaluated; the pros really do have techniques for evaluating the potential of a given site. It's one thing to throw up some conceptual drawings for a ballpark to fit within a certain site; it's another to come up with a site plan in a way that a facility can actually make money. Still, fresh eyes are always good, and it will be interesting to see what they contribute to the discussion.
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