KNOXVILLE, Tenn. (WATE) — Smokies owner and University of Tennessee president Randy Boyd has offered up his concept for building a new baseball stadium in Knoxville’s Old City. In a statement, Boyd said, “Since 2000, the Tennessee Smokies have enjoyed many successful seasons at Smokies Stadium and a positive, productive relationship with Sevierville and Sevier County. We appreciate that they have provided a ‘home’ for professional baseball in our region.” The idea is one we’ve followed for years, and the discussions of bringing baseball back to Downtown Knoxville even longer than that. On Tuesday, drawings for what the stadium could look like and the potential layout were released.
Boyd says these concepts are based off Wrigleyville, the neighborhood surrounding Wrigley Field in Chicago. He adds that baseball is not the only part of this plan.
There are apartments with balconies overlooking the field, with restaurants and places to shop.
“So we really weren’t planning to announce it today. This was something the news found out we were doing some research. However, as I think about it, there’s not a better time. I think this is something hopefully our community, like I am, can get excited about, about a dream of the future that can really be transformative for our city.” RANDY BOYD
Boyd describes this as a public-private partnership, with Boyd donating the land and bringing the team plus private investment of $140M. The public portion would be about $65M.
He says so far no request has been made to local governments, at this point, his company Boyd Sports, has only had informal meetings with local leaders to talk about bringing the stadium to Knoxville.
As it has been stated previously, Boyd Sports would entertain an offer to locate the Smokies in Knoxville.
“Regardless, we will want to develop the property into something that can be a catalyst for growth and a point of pride for East Knoxville,” said Boyd.
Officials from the City of Knoxville & Knox County weigh in
According to a spokesperson with Knoxville Mayor Indya Kincannon’s office, city leadership, specifically Knoxville’s Chief Economic and Community Development Officer Stephanie Welch has met with Boyd about the baseball stadium concept.
“We are evaluating the different approaches cities have taken to support sporting venues with public financing. We are excited about exploring the opportunity with other partners. Community-wide support and buy-in will be critical to any public-private partnership. Currently, there is no definite timeline on when such a partnership might be formalized.” KNOXVILLE MAYOR INDYA KINCANNON’S OFFICE
A spokesperson for Knox County, Mike Donila said that both mayors have met with Boyd earlier on to go over his conceptual plans.
Knox County Mayor Glenn Jacobs supports bringing back baseball, but according to Donila, the mayor says at this point all it is at the moment is a concept.
“It would be premature to talk, also right now about the cost or how to fund such a project if it became a reality.”
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