If all goes well, Tennessee Smokies (Class AA; Southern League) owner Randy Boyd says construction of a new downtown Knoxville ballpark could begin next fall.
The proposed $142-million mixed-use development in Knoxville’s Old City area would be anchored by a new $65-million ballpark for his team. That ballpark for the Smokies would be the economic fuel driving the mixed-use development featuring 630,000 square feet of residential, restaurants and retail in the ballpark vicinity.
Since we last reported on the project, Boyd has worked with city and county officials to create a proposed for a sports authority to finance, build and operate the new ballpark. He’s also assembled seven acres in the Old City area 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 the Knoxville News:
“A potential schedule would be that the city and the county – (through) the sports authority – bond the project in late spring, early summer of next year, and we would begin construction in the third quarter of 2021,” Boyd said. “The hope – and this is a very aggressive schedule – is being able to say, ‘play ball’ in April of 2023.”
Sports authorities are allowed under state law to keep state sales tax generated by the facility — 7 percent on items like tickets, concessions and merchandise — to be funneled back to the city and county to pay off debt to construct the stadium. Local bond attorney Mark Mamantov told Knox News the sports authority could generate “probably between $300,000-$400,000 a year depending on how the team does.”
Rendering courtesy Tennessee Smokies.