Discussions relating to the future redevelopment of the Greer Stadium site continue, but the process is drawing criticism from some groups and officials.
Nashville Metro government is in the process of evaluating proposals for the facility, which has been vacant since the Nashville Sounds (Class AAA; Pacific Coast League) departed for First Tennessee Park after the 2014 season. In January, the process of seeking proposals for the 21-acre site began, giving private developers the opportunity to submit their concepts for redeveloping the site.
As part of the next step in the process, a seven-member panel convened on Monday to discuss the proposals. Five redevelopment concepts reportedly advanced to this step, though the bids and identities of the developers under consideration remain sealed and Monday’s meeting took place behind closed doors. According to Metro government, that was done to comply with state procurement policy.
While some groups are concerned with how private development could affect the graves of former slaves that are believed to be on the site, as well as Fort Negley and Fort Negley Park, criticisms have also been raised about the recent closed-door meeting. Metro council budget and finance committee chairman John Cooper has questioned if the process is being conducted correctly, though his concerns have been countered by Nashville Metro officials. More from The Tennessean:
Cooper, a regular critic of land deals and incentives proposed by the mayor’s office, raised concerns in a letter to the council Saturday. He said just because Greer Stadium might be determined to be “no longer needed,” the same isn’t true for the dirt beneath it.
“Without designating the Fort Negley/Greer Stadium property as ‘surplus’ and ‘no longer needed’ by Nashville, the surplus property procedure cannot lawfully be used to award private commercial development rights to this property in any form,” Cooper wrote.
“How is it that we’re in this secret process in the first place?” Cooper said in an interview with The Tennessean. “This property is a heritage jewel for Nashville. … And how it is ‘up’ for a development award is a deep question.”
In a statement, [mayor Megan] Barry spokesman Sean Braisted said the process to select a proposal has not been secretive and has been “public for months and has been reported on numerous times in the media.”
The request for the bids was based on community input, Braisted said.
“The procurement process is confidential to ensure fairness, not secrecy,” he said in a statement. “This is standard operating procedure and good government policies at work.
Following the Sounds’ departure, the Greer Stadium site has been connected to a few proposals–including one to use the facility as a professional soccer stadium. However, no final plan has surfaced, and there is no word on a timeline for when a final decision from this process could be made. Redevelopment of the property will also need to receive approval from both the parks board and Metro council.
The ballpark originally opened in 1978, when the Sounds were members of the Class AA Southern League. In June 2016, our own Jarah Wright visited Greer Stadium and reported on its condition.