Labor guarantees unlikely in Smokies’ draft baseball stadium deal


Tennessee Smokies owner Randy Boyd says the workers who build the team proposed baseball stadium will be paid at least $ 15.50 per hour, but he will not sign any agreement guaranteeing it.

Local union representatives had hoped Boyd would sign a labor agreement outlining safety standards and compensation for construction workers, but Boyd, who met with a handful of local union leaders last week, said that a base salary and standards are included in GEM Development’s agreement with Denark. Construction, its contractor on the project $ 74.5 million project.

The taxpayer funded stadium must be approved by Knoxville, the County of Knox and the local sports authority. It would be built right next to downtown Knoxville and Boyd has pledged to bring at least $ 142 million in private money for 630,000 square feet of restaurants, retail stores and residences around the stadium.

Boyd also said he would not sign a community benefits agreement setting guidelines for workers who keep the stadium running after baseball and other events take place. A community agreement would define minimum wages, guarantees of working conditions and, ideally, the origin of the workforce. Some executives, like City Councilor Amelia Parker, said workers should be hired exclusively in East Knoxville.

Boyd said salaries for stadium workers would be market-driven and would not be guaranteed at a specific rate.

But since Boyd has been a longtime member of the community, he said, a community benefits agreement won’t be necessary. Unlike the football stadium under construction in Nashville which has an agreement, the Smokies Stadium will be a public park built on Boyd’s private land, not the other way around. Separately, Boyd has previously said, unlike out-of-town investors who may not have the community’s best interests in mind, he and his family have a history of philanthropic giving which shows that his dedication is solid.

The proposed Tennessee Smokies Stadium for Old Town Knoxville has construction worker pay included in the development agreement, believing union leaders want minimum wage guarantees for those who work in the stadium once it will be operational.

Unions want to get involved in training local construction workers

Organizers from the Knoxville-Oak Ridge Central Labor Council, Knoxville Building and Construction Trades Council, Ironworkers Local 384 and LiUNA Local 818 were hoping for a different outcome after asking to local officials a sort of collective agreement during several public forums.

Union leaders said they would likely be the ones helping the Knoxville-area Urban League with the promised apprenticeship training for community workers with no construction experience.

“We all agreed that there is action to be taken (here)… East Knoxville needs more trained and skilled workers. The job doesn’t have a lot of representation and we can work together to resolve both of these issues, ”Boyd said.

Randy Boyd, owner of the Tennessee Smokies, outlines possible plans for the team's new baseball stadium in Old Town Knoxville.

But, the unions want to use their existing Ministry of Labor apprenticeship programs, which are not easy to replicate, union representatives said.

“I hope that’s not the way it is,” Chris O’Keefe of the International Association of Bridge, Construction, Ornament and Reinforcement Workers told Knox News on Friday. “Because there’s no way for them to get a learning program (up and running). So they sell false hopes… it would be like a two week training. But this is not an apprenticeship program.

O’Keefe said the task forces would help regardless, but would prefer to be assured that certified apprenticeship programs are used to provide specific salaries and training standards for those who wish to learn a trade.

Opportunities for workers in East Knoxville

Because construction will be overseen by the Knoxville-Knox County Sports Authority, the tender for the construction is not required to be open, which O’Keefe says means it will be easier to choose companies that will work with the Urban League and others. to recruit workers from East Knoxville.

“This type of targeted recruitment effort is essential in getting people into construction training programs that can prepare them for long-term careers in the trades,” the groups said in a statement to Knox News last week. .

The Urban League organize its second networking session for disadvantaged, minority, women and veteran businesses from 6 p.m. to 7:30 p.m. Thursday to explore construction and training opportunities related to the proposed project. The event is at 1514 E. 5th Ave.

A rendering of the proposed multi-purpose stadium in Old Town in downtown Knoxville.  The stadium would be surrounded by buildings including retail, offices and residences, as well as green roofs and entertainment terraces allowing residents and occupants to watch sporting events and concerts from their homes or offices.  The stadium's 360-degree lobby will host multiple concessions and themed entertainment areas mixed across multiple seating options.

More information about the session here.

What are the plans for the stadium?

The proposed $ 74.5 million stadium would be the centerpiece of a massive development project on a Boyd-owned property home to the Double-A Tennessee Smokies, who currently play at Kodak.

The newly formed One Knoxville Sporting Club plans to play his home games at the stadium.

Boyd has pledged at least $ 142 million in private money to build 630,000 square feet of restaurants, retail stores and residences around the stadium if Knoxville and Knox County agree to fund a public stadium. The plans also include 22,000 square feet of space that could house a grocery store tenant.

Fees for taxpayers:In the worst case, how much will the proposed Smokies Stadium cost taxpayers?

Officials estimated that the project cost the city and county $ 240,000 per year debt payments that are expected to decline by Year 10 until the project pays for itself. This means that the sales tax from the stadium will exceed the debt payments.

Even in the worst-case scenario, authorities’ projections show the city and county’s annual debt. would not be more than $ 750,000. It would be much less than 1% of the annual budget of one or the other.

And after?

The draft plan for the proposed Smokies Stadium complex – development agreement and financing plan – is as follows (all dates are subject to change):

  • November 8: last joint city / county workshop before the vote
  • During the week, the Sports Authority will likely vote on it
  • November 15: Commission votes
  • November 16: Council votes

If one of the bodies does not approve the proposals and the deal fails, Boyd has said he will build something else on the Old Town property, which he bought for $ 6 million in 2016. He now assesses it at $ 10 million.

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