A new Knoxville ballpark for the Tennessee Smokies (Double-A South) took another step forward in the regulatory process, with the Knoxville Knox County Sports Authority approving $65 million in bonding.
The Sports Authority represents the city of Knoxville and Knox County in the process and will technically own the ballpark and overseeing a lease to the Smokies. Their approval of the $65 million in bonding paves the way for the Knox County Commission and Knoxville City Council to issue similar approvals in upcoming votes.
The ballpark is expected to open for the 2023 season. From the Knoxville News:
The ballpark would be the centerpiece of a massive development on property that already belongs to Double-A Tennessee Smokies baseball team owner and University of Tennessee System President Randy Boyd.
He has promised to bring at least $142 million in private money to build 630,000 square feet of restaurants, retail shops and residences around the stadium if Knoxville and Knox County agree to finance a publicly owned stadium. The plans now include a 22,000-square-foot space that could, conceivably, become a grocery store.
The financial plan calls for service on the bonds to be $3.2 million per year. The Smokies will pay $1 million in annual rent and approximately $750,000 in payments in lieu of taxes. The remaining annual debt at $480,000 is expected to be addressed by sales-tax proceeds at the ballpark and the surrounding development. The city and county will put up the $480,000 as the development ramps up, with the sales-tax revenue projected to turn a profit in coming years.
Rendering courtesy Tennessee Smokies.
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