KNOXVILLE, Tenn. (WATE) – The Knox County Commission voted to move forward with creating a sports authority as local leaders talk about the possibility of bringing baseball back to downtown Knoxville.
A sports authority is an advisory panel of citizens that oversees the development of a sports facility. City and county officials will appoint a minimum of seven members to sit on the sports authority board.
The vote does not commit to building the stadium or allocate any local funds but is considered a necessary next step for local leaders to consider Tennessee Smokies owner Randy Boyd’s proposal to build a new downtown stadium with mixed-use commercial development.
In August, 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.
Knox County Mayor Glenn Jacobs on Friday weighed in on the possibility of bringing baseball back to downtown Knoxville, saying the project cannot put any additional tax burden on Knox County residents in order for him to support the proposal.
In November, Knoxville Mayor Indya Kincannon said the forming a sports authority would be, “a step that that we can take now to leave options open for financing a potential stadium.”
Boyd purchased the former site of Knox Rail Salvage at 400 E. Jackson Avenue for $6 million in 2016. Records show RR Land LLC, a company which Boyd is a managing member of, also purchased six other adjacent properties on Willow Avenue and Patten Street.
The Tennessee Smokies are a double-A affiliate of Major League Baseball’s Chicago Cubs and have played at Smokies Stadium in Kodak since 2000.
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