Though the Nashville Sounds (Class AAA; Pacific Coast League) and the city agree Sulphur Dell is the best place for a new ballpark, there’s no financing plan in place, according to Mayor Karl Dean.
Plans for a new Sounds ballpark were all but dead after Sounds owner Frank Ward rejected the idea of a Sulphur Dell ballpark, which was one of three potential sites identified by Populous in research for the new facility. The rejection led to a stalemate, but that all changed earlier this season when Dean was asked to throw out the first pitch at a Sounds game. Afterwards, he was approached by Ward, who asked to reopen talks with Sulphur Dell as the centerpiece. With son Chris Ward pushing Sulphur Dell as located in a potentially up-and-coming part of town, the city and the team had a common goal. Gail Kerr has an excellent summary of the changes in attitudes, summed up by this:
Frank Ward had originally seen Sulphur Dell as a lot of empty parking lots with weeds in a “bad” part of town. Ward’s son saw something different. He saw land, lots of it, in a city that is the buzz of the country. He saw Germantown, hopping with restaurants and young residents who like to walk and bike to their destinations. He saw the potential to help the state build a new state museum, library and archives, cementing the area as a destination.
While there’s a common goal, one hard task remains: coming up with a funding plan. And that’s where Dean expressed some caution at a Friday press conference, saying such talk was premature:
Although a document prepared by the mayor’s office said the state could approve transferring the property to Metro next month, Dean said there’s no “hard timeline” for completing the “complicated” transaction.
“We are further along now on this front than we have ever been,” he said. “But we don’t own the land, and we’re not prepared to release the details of a financing plan at this point.
“We’re going to continue to work on this. We’re optimistic that it can happen.”
RELATED STORIES: Nashville: Bring baseball back to Sulphur Dell; Sounds extend Greer Stadium lease — but no new ballpark in sight; Sounds: We prefer East Bank for new-ballpark site; Nashville ballpark sites narrowed to three; Researching ballpark sites in Nashville; Nashville seeking community input for ballpark site; Nashville once again moving forward on new ballpark
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