KNOXVILLE, Tenn. (WATE) — Another step has been taken by officials toward bringing baseball back to downtown Knoxville. The joint Knoxville-Knox County Sports Authority Board created for the planning, financing, constructing and managing the upcoming multiuse stadium in the Old City approved three agreements for the continued development of the project.
The Sports Authority Board met Tuesday morning at the Knoxville Museum of Art Bailey Hall, where they voted in favor of the development, lease and infrastructure agreements for the multiuse stadium project. Plans for the project, which include a residential building on-site, were revealed last month.
Sports authority board members voted unanimously on all three of the proposed agreements with the city and the county. The multiuse stadium is set to be the future home of the Tennessee Smokies Baseball team, whose CEO was also present at the Tuesday morning meeting.
“I think it will create another draw for downtown and create, add to the vibrancy and the growth and development of the downtown area,” Doug Kirchhofer, CEO of Tennessee Smokies Baseball, said. “The growth of the central business core in any city is important to the overall health and the well-being of the city at large.”
Boyd Sports and the Tennessee Smokies AA Southern League baseball team will lease the stadium for $1 million annually. Owner Randy Boyd donated the land to the city as part of the public-private deal and has pledged to bring more than $100 million in private investment to the area, which would serve as one of several revenue sources for paying down the stadium debt.
The multiuse complex is projected to cost $74.5 million in public dollars.
One Knoxville Sporting Club, the city’s new soccer team, said last year they signed a memorandum of understanding with Boyd Sports to play future home games at the new venue. Officials say the multiuse stadium would be designed to accommodate other sports and host hundreds of other non-baseball events each year, such as concerts and festivals.
An opening date is anticipated for 2024.
The Sports Authority Board will meet again Tuesday, Feb. 22 in the City of Knoxville’s Public Works Community Room and planners of the project are aiming to have financial backing in place by April.