Nominees for Sports Authority announced as Knoxville stadium planning heats up

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(FILE image, August 2020)

KNOXVILLE, Tenn. (WATE) – Knoxville Mayor Indya Kincannon and Knox County Mayor Glenn Jacobs released a list of seven nominees to serve on a new Sports Authority that would oversee the development of a proposed $65 million multi-use stadium in downtown Knoxville.

The Sports Authority would explore the feasibility and cost-benefit analysis of building a 7,000-seat, publicly-owned stadium just east of the Old City. Site developers have pledged to bring more than $100 million in private investment for residential properties, dining and retail businesses along with the stadium.

“We’re exploring our options for what we feel will be a great entertainment park for the area,” Jacobs said. “It will be so much more than just baseball – and the Sports Authority is the first step toward making this a reality.”

The nominees will be voted on by Knoxville City Council on April 20 and by County Commission on April 26. The nominees recommended to join the Sports Authority are: 

  • Richard H. Bass – a University of Tennessee graduate and a retired bank executive who served as trustee for the Maryland Sports Authority that issued bonds for construction of Orioles Park at Camden Yards, the Baltimore Ravens’ stadium, the Baltimore Convention Center and other facilities 
  • Joan C. Cronan – UT Women’s Athletic Director Emeritus, speaker, author, consultant, community leader and member of eight different Halls of Fame
  • Jeff Hagood – founding partner with the Hagood Moody Hodge law firm, longtime President of the Knoxville Quarterback Club, and co-author of two sports-themed books – one on Vol standout Inky Johnson and the other, “A Perfect Season,” with UT Coach Phillip Fulmer
  • Tim Hill – co-founder and President of Hatcher-Hill Properties, which develops commercial and mixed-use properties in Knoxville with a focus on historic preservation and revitalization; Hill serves as a Knoxville-Knox County Planning Commissioner, on the boards of Knox Heritage and CareCuts, and as President of the Bearden Village Council
  • Alvin J. Nance – CEO of LHP Development, formerly the longtime Executive Director and CEO of Knoxville’s Community Development Corp., and the former Vice Chairman of the Tennessee Housing Development Agency 
  • Nikitia Thompson – owner/broker of Realty Executives – Nikitia Thompson Realty, a former Chair of the KUB Board, secretary of the Knoxville Chamber Board and a community leader who actively works on diversity and equity issues
  • Rosalyn Tillman -Dean of Pellissippi State Community College’s Magnolia Avenue campus for 21 years; almost 3,000 high school students have successfully completed the Summer Institute, a collaborative effort between Pellissippi State and Project GRAD that Tillman implemented and directs 

In August, Tennessee Smokies owner Randy Boyd released renderings of a proposed downtown Knoxville stadium, describing the project as a public-private partnership with Boyd donating the land and bringing the team plus private investment of $140 million. The public, or taxpayer, portion would be about $65 million.

“In making this investment, the public benefit has to be greater than the public cost,” Kincannon said. “Our initial research shows that to be the case, and this highly experienced Sports Authority will be digging deeper and doing an independent analysis. 

State lawmakers are considering a proposal that would offset public investment in a new stadium. The state would still receive 1.5% of any sales tax generated within a quarter mile of the stadium, to go toward education. All revenue captured under the proposal is also required to go toward the initial stadium debt service. The capture is for 30 years; however, it ends if the debt is paid before.

Governor Bill Lee’s 2021-2022 administrative budget proposal was recently amended to include $13.5 million to help fund the proposed Knoxville Sports Complex.

No funding has been officially designated for the stadium proposal. City and County staff will be supporting the Sports Authority as it launches. Deputy to the Mayor Stephanie Welch and Knox County Finance Director Chris Caldwell are heading up City and County efforts.  

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