Tennessee Smokies (Class AA; Southern League) owner Randy Boyd is going public with his plan for a $142-million mixed-use development in Knoxville’s Old City area, anchored by a new ballpark for his team.
Boyd has been meeting privately with city and county political and business leaders about the plan. Boyd is the University of Tennessee System president and a local business who has assembled seven acres for a ballpark and associated development in what has been an industrial part of Knoxville. With a lease for Smokies Stadium expiring in 2024 and Sevier County reportedly looking at development alternatives for the ballpark site, now is the time to begin planning for the team’s future. From Knoxville News:
The project’s selling point is the $142 million mixed-use apartment and community space that would surround the park. The 630,000-square-feet project would have an Old City-styled veneer that fits the warehouse character of the area, Boyd told Knox News.
The buildings would overlook the stadium and like Wrigley Field – home of the Chicago Cubs, the Smokies’ major league affiliate – have bleacher seating on top of the apartments.
There also would be space for retail and restaurants and breweries. All of it would be in the Old City, adjacent to downtown.
“This is different than a lot of stadiums which are built on a ‘build it and they will come’ strategy,” he said. “We’re already coming – we’re already committed to coming with the stadium.”
Boyd is estimating a total cost of the ballpark as $65 million, but also includes a 20 percent cost contingency for overruns, pushing the total cost to potentially $78 million. That’s on par with many new ballparks of this scale built in recent years, and less than similar projects, such as Polar Park in Worcester, where costs are now at $100 million. And while Boyd has gone public with his vision, a funding plan still needs to be proposed, much less finalized, with potential city and county participation. In these COVID-19 times and governments at all levels struggling, finding a formula that works today and also down the line will be a challenge, to be sure.
Rendering courtesy Tennessee Smokies.