Smokies downtown ballpark clears hurdle; closer to construction

The Sports Authority Board approved the board to finalize the financial plan for the multi-use stadium.
Sports Authority Board finalizing financial documents for stadium
Published: Mar. 7, 2023 at 6:28 PM EST
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KNOXVILLE, Tenn. (WVLT) - The Smokies ballpark coming to downtown Knoxville, was one step closer for construction to get underway, as a big hurdle was cleared Tuesday morning.

The Sports Authority Board approved the board to finalize the financial plan for the multi-use stadium.

On Monday, the City of Knoxville, Knox County, and Owner of the Tennessee Smokies, Randy Boyd, announced the ballpark was going to cost $114 million. The board heard that price, and decided to move forward.

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“This was one of the things that was sort of a lynchpin,” Alvin Nance, Sports Authority Board Chairman said.

The board was finalizing the money for the future Smokies ballpark, which is planned for the east end of Old City.

The $114 million dollar ballpark is more expensive than what board members wanted to hear, but they expected it because of inflation, and they still believed it will be a positive investment.

“Financing is in place, revenues will be in place to support this,” Nance said.

If approved, taxpayers will cover $65 million dollars through bonds. Smokies owner Randy Boyd is paying more than $30 million, and promised to cover the cost of any future price increases.

The actual financing has not been approved yet. The vote gave the board the green light to finalize the documents. The final development agreement, and financial plan, will be voted on at a meeting later this month. Construction can start once that’s approved.

“So far, we have been performing infrastructure developments around the site,” Mohamed Abbas said, Senior Project Manager for Denark Construction. “To pretty much prepare the site for the large amount of development that’s going to take place in the future.”

The goal was for the stadium to be ready for opening day in 2025. Abbas said it’s on track to be done by then, given the preliminary work that’s done.

The two-year process has one more hurdle to clear at that follow-up meeting this month.

“We are really looking forward to getting this project started,” Abbas said.

The stadium is expected to be an economic boost for the area too. The stadium is set to employ around 3,000 people during construction, and another 400 people permanently once the ballpark is up and running.