KNOXVILLE, Tenn. (WATE) — After Tuesday night’s monumental vote moving plans for the new multiuse stadium forward, some are excited about downtown getting its own field of dreams, but others are not happy about the project.
Mast General Store along Gay Street is excited for the game days when more people will be downtown. In fact, they plan to add some new Smokies merchandise to their collection when the stadium is up and running.
“We hope to have when the time does roll around is to have our own Smokies shop inside the store whether it’s ballcaps or shirts or jerseys, you know all the things you could use to cheer on the Smokies,” said Natalea Cummings, general manager of the store.
However, some local labor unions wanted the vote to be postponed until an agreement on inclusive workforce hiring practices and compensation could be reached.
“What we’re wanting is a community benefits agreement that helps the citizens of Knoxville, the taxpayers of Knoxville,” said Sam Alexander, president of Knoxville, Oak Ridge Area Central Labor Council. “What we were asking for in this one is for local hires. “That the workers who are going to build the stadium or work the stadium would be hired locally, not from out of state as many construction companies do.
“It would contain a living wage agreement too. And then what we were actually offering was an oversight to see that whatever was agreed to actually took place.”
With no written agreement in place, all they can do is trust the leaders of this project to keep their word.
“We are ecstatic that there is going to be a stadium,” Alexander said. “I just expect (Tennessee Smokies owner) Randy Boyd to do the right thing. And If he doesn’t do the right thing then I guess we’ll have to call him out on it.”
In Sevier County, where the Smokies play right now, the mayor is disappointed about the potential move.
“I’m disappointed that it appears the Smokies are leaving because if it wasn’t for Sevierville and Sevier County there wouldn’t be a Smokies because we were able to step up and keep the team here when they were looking to leave the area completely,” said Mayor Larry Waters.
Waters adds that county leaders are looking at different opportunities for the current stadium. He says several people are interested but nothing is concrete at the moment.