KNOXVILLE, Tenn. (WATE) —The Knoxville-Knox County Sports Authority Board met again Tuesday to discuss the multi-use stadium proposal for Knoxville’s Old City. Members discussed the project timeline and the ongoing work to finalize the plan. Three major documents are still being written and finalized, including development plans and a lease agreement.
Stephanie Welch, Chief Economic and Community Development Officer for the City of Knoxville, said a first vote could take place as soon as November. Next week, the city council will vote on a planned development application, involving zoning changed to the proposed site.
During the public forum, board members also heard a renewed push for a community benefits agreement from two union representatives.
Sam Alexander, President of the Knoxville/Oak Ridge-Area Central Labor Council, spoke about the need for a written agreement. “It brings work to the community. It brings safety to the community. it allows us to just benefit the community in general.”
Alexander also advocated for specific benefits, including a $15.50 minimum wage for construction and stadium workers, an emphasis on safety, and a priority to hire local. “The problem is promises made are not always promises kept; whereas, if you put it in writing, and you rely on an organization like the Central Labor Council or like the building trades to enforce that agreement, then you have something that truly benefits the community,” he added.
Chris O’Keefe, Business Manager for Iron Workers Local 384, also supports a CBA. He proposed a partnership to the board, noting the union’s established apprenticeship program could benefit the project. “What we’re asking for is the opportunity to sit down and have a discussion to see how we can use organized labor, state-certified apprenticeships, as well as get some things in writing,” O’Keefe said.
Councilwoman Seema Singh supports a CBA. Without one, she said Tuesday, she will not support the project.