As the dust settles on the proposal to locate a new Nashville Sounds (Class AAA; Pacific Coast League) ballpark in Sulphur Dell, one key is emerging: it will take a serious commitment from team owners to make it work.
It’s not that there’s a gap in an financial plan — heck, there’s no financial plan at all released to the public. The current plan is still a very basic one: the city would build a new ballpark at the old Sulphur Dell site, with the state contributing the land. That neighborhood is considered to be a prime area for development, and the ballpark is seen as a big part of that renaissance: turning surface lots to a new ballpark and parking ramp would certainly bring new life to the area.
So if there’s no financial plan yet, why should it be assumed the Sounds should make a significant financial contribution to the project? To sway voters to put up the rest. Nashville went through two bruising battles when it came to public funding of LP Field and Bridgestone Arena — battles no elected official wants to see repeated. Gail Kerr addresses the issue in The Tennessean:
Step two, a sound financing plan. How the stadium will be paid for is the big question. Will it be a waiver of taxes? An allocation of property taxes? Some magical mystery financing? A baseball ticket tax? A naming deal? Nothing is in writing. It stands to reason since negotiations started in April some concrete proposals must have been discussed. One thing is certain: The mayor has said repeatedly the Sounds “have to put skin in the game.”…
What will it take to get [support from the Metro Council]? “Substantial monetary contribution from the Sounds,” said Councilman Ronnie Steine, newly appointed chairman of the budget and finance committee. “The city of Nashville will not fully fund a baseball stadium. It’s just never going to happen.”
Steine predicts a combination of tax increment funding, city-backed bonds and the land deal, “but the key component is exactly what the Sounds are willing to put in.”
Now, the Sounds ownership has been willing to put money into Greer Stadium since purchasing the team, so there’s a bit of a track record there. This is a pretty unique opportunity to develop something that both improves the city and improves the bottom line for the team: bringing baseball back to Sulphur Dell would be a major accomplishment for the team ownership.
RELATED STORIES: Nashville mayor: No financing plan yet for Sulphur Dell ballpark; 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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