Knoxville takes another step towards baseball stadium with approval of sports authority

Local Sports

KNOXVILLE, Tenn. (WATE) – The Knoxville City Council passed a resolution to create a sports authority on Tuesday night as city and county leaders consider building a new downtown baseball stadium.

The measure passed 8-1 at Tuesday’s city council meeting where council members approved Knoxville Vice Mayor Gwen McKenzie’s “African American Equity Restoration” resolution, calling for $100 million over a 10-year span to create opportunities of economic equity for the city’s Black community.

The resolution does not commit to building the stadium or any public financing, but does move forward the creation of an advisory panel of citizens that would oversee the development of a sports facility. The Knox County Commission will vote to approve the sports authority at their meeting on Monday.

If approved, city and county officials will appoint a minimum of seven members to sit on the board.

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.

Property in Knoxville’s Old City purchased by RR Land LLC

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.

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.”

“Working with the City to create a Sports Authority is the first step in a long process,” Knox County Mayor Glenn Jacobs said in a statement last month. “We look forward to advancing conversations with the Tennessee Smokies baseball team as we believe the entire project will bring value to Knox County—from tourism, to business development and sales tax revenue.”

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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