KNOXVILLE, Tenn. (WATE) — The Knoxville-Knox County Sports Authority and Smokies’ owner Randy Boyd have signed an agreement outlining the development and construction of the $114 million downtown stadium.
The Stadium Development Agreement covers the conditions of construction, community commitments and funding framework for the stadium that will see Boyd’s minor league baseball team return to the city after more than 2 decades at Smokies Stadium in Sevier County.
With a capacity of 7,000, the Smokies are expected to begin playing at the stadium located east of the Old City neighborhood in 2025. The site has been touted as a multiuse stadium that will also host other events like soccer matches, festivals, concerts and be open for public visitation on off-days.
Funding for the project must be finalized by Sept. 1 or, “as soon thereafter as commercially reasonable in accordance with all Applicable Law,” according to the agreement. The funding plan includes $65 million in public bonds from the city and county and a $13.5 million grant from the state.
Boyd has committed over $30 million to construction costs, though $20 million will be repaid to him through the Tax Increment Financing district, an area around the stadium in which property tax revenues from new developments would go towards paying the stadium debt.
The total annual debt to be paid by the city and county has been estimated at $3.2 million, more than half of which will come from a $1 million annual lease payment and $750,000 annual payment-in-lieu of tax from Boyd. Sales tax revenue from the stadium and surrounding retail developments would also go towards these costs.
The Knox County Community Development Corporation, the city’s public housing authority and redevelopment agency, will enter into a development agreement related to the construction of a mixed-use building adjacent to the stadium called the Beauford Delaney Building as part of the agreement.
Stadium developers agreed on a goal of 17% of stadium costs be attributable to work and services performed by disadvantaged business enterprises like minority-owned businesses, women-owned businesses and veteran-owned businesses. However, the agreement notes that failure to achieve the goal would not be deemed a breach of the development agreement.
Project officials have estimated the stadium’s total economic impact at $480 million over the next 30 years and will create 3,000 jobs between construction and stadium operations, 400 of which would become full-time.
Utility work in the area began in April 2022. A groundbreaking ceremony on stadium construction is expected later this year.
Upon their return to Knoxville in 2025, the Tennessee Smokies will officially change their name back to the Knoxville Smokies.