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Smokies ballpark site plan seeks to reunify city

We’re seeing another important use emerge for a new Tennessee Smokies ballpark: the site design will seek to unify traditional neighborhoods fragmented by urban renewal in the past.

As in many American cities, urban renewal led to some side effects, including the separation of neighborhoods. That has been determined to be the case in Knoxville.

Knoxville has committed $100 million toward efforts to reverse these urban-renewal efforts. As part of this effort, the city has applied for a $55-million federal Reconnecting Communities grant, and the ballpark is envisioned as a prime player in connecting these disparate neighborhoods, per the Knoxville News:

Part of this multimodal plan – making the city more walkable with connected trails and paths – extends south to the Knoxville Urban Wilderness and east through the Morningside neighborhood and East Knoxville, ending at the Knoxville Botanical Garden and Arboretum.

The project would focus on building connections to public amenities and “economic opportunities” that are difficult to access without a car….

The Reconnecting Communities application has received support from the civilian-led African American Equity Restoration Task Force, which works to secure funding toward the $100 million goal.

In keeping with an emphasis on connecting Knoxville neighborhoods and serve community interests, some design details to back that plan have been released. For instance, the East Plaza–shown in the rendering at the top of the page–will sport statues honoring the Knoxville Giants, the Negro Southern League team from the 1920s and 1930s.

In other news regarding the new Smokies ballpark, set to open in 2024, the cost estimate could be raised once again, potentially to $100 million, from a previous estimate of $80 million. We could see the new cost estimate as soon as Nov. 9.

Renderings courtesy Tennessee Smokies.

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