The Nashville Sounds (Class AAA; Pacific Coast League) and the city of Nashville broke ground on a new ballpark today, another step in an improbably journey that brings pro baseball back to Sulphur Dell.
It was a remarkable event in that various owners and mayors have sought a new ballpark for the Sounds for at least 15 years — years that saw one team owner flame out on a plan and threaten to move the team out of Nashville proper, as well as a the development of a downtown waterfront plan where the economics never really worked. In the end, the old Sulphur Dell location between downtown and Germantown, the previous home of pro baseball in the city, ended up working out the best in terms of ballpark siting and generating potential economic development after it was championed by Mayor Karl Dean and agreed to by Sounds owner Frank Ward. From the Tennessean:
“I would be less than honest if I thought I would ever be standing here giving this speech today,” Minor League Baseball President Pat O’Conner said.
Scheduled to open in time for the 2015 season with room for 10,000 fans, the $38 million facility will occupy the old Sulphur Dell site, the original home of professional baseball in Nashville. Minor league and Negro League teams played there dating to the 1860s. The ballpark will sit between Jackson and Harrison streets and between Third and Fifth avenues.
“This is where Jackie Robinson, Babe Ruth, Lou Gehrig and Joe DiMaggio all played when they came through Nashville decades ago,” Dean said.
The new ballpark will open in 2015 and replace Greer Stadium as home of the Sounds.
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