Some progress on a new ballpark for the Nashville Sounds (Class AAA; Pacific Coast League), as the city released a site evaluation study with three potential locations: the East Bank of the Cumberland River, Sulphur Dell located near Germantown and the North Gulch area north of Charlotte Avenue. UPDATED!
The study by Populous describes the three sites as “exciting options” for a new ballpark. The study calls the East Bank the site “that can produce impact on a grand scale.” It also says that development there “creates a new front door to downtown Nashville.”
The study says a ballpark in the North Gulch could build on the energy of ongoing Gulch development and could act as a gateway from West Nashville on Charlotte Avenue. The Sulphur Dell site, the historic location of professional baseball in Nashville, would be an opportunity to tie into two greenway systems and could boost development along Jefferson Street, the report says.
A full copy of the report is available here: http://www.nashville.gov/mayor/docs/ballpark/SiteEvaluationStudy.pdf
Missing from the list of potential sites: a downtown Thermal Plant site that had been the preferred ballpark site during the previous Sounds ownership. Like many of these sites, the Thermal Plan site is a riverfront site, but it’s almost become too valuable to serve as a ballpark site, according to Populous’s Bruce Miller, who fielded questions this morning about the site selections.
“A lot has changed in Nashville in recent years,” he said, “We think this project, which would have a significant private component, needs to return the best investment for both parties. We don’t see a ballpark on the Thermal Plant site having the same impact as the three other recommended sites.”
Also considered: a new ballpark on the Greer Stadium site, either replacing the existing building or built next to it. In either case, a new ballpark would seriously impact Sounds’ operations for two years.
“All three sites present unique opportunities to enhance our city in different ways,” says Mayor Karl Dean said. “Both the North Gulch and the Sulphur Dell locations would build on the growth and reinvestment of important urban neighborhoods. I am especially intrigued by the East Bank site because it offers opportunity for more than just a baseball stadium. It could be the catalyst for a complete transformation of one of the last undeveloped, highly visible sections of our city’s skyline.”
“We are especially excited about possible sites for a new stadium on the East Bank. While there are other attractive sites, none offer as many plusses — ease of access, ready parking, and proximity to downtown are just a few,” said Sounds owner Frank Ward. “And the Sounds would be delighted to be part of Metro’s bold plan to develop and upgrade a significant piece of riverfront property. Thanks to the administration and to Populous for doing such a thorough study of this important issue.”
The report notes that the trend in most cities for financing a minor-league baseball stadium is through a public-private partnership.
“This study is the first step in a long process,” Dean said. “We are still a long way from a financing structure and an agreement with the Nashville Sounds. As the report points out, next steps include market and financial feasibility studies and further study of property acquisition. Additionally, there has to be a significant financial contribution by the Sounds.”
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