As Minor League Baseball clubs announced their 2022 rosters on Monday, the Tennessee Smokies made a different kind of announcement: The team’s new multi-sport stadium in Old Town will be delayed for a year.
Last month, Knox News reported that the team had said the 2024 deadline was “tight”, but further discussions revealed that 2025 was much more achievable. The project has struggled due to global supply chain issues and a “volatile construction market”, the team said in a press release on Monday.
Both mayors endorsed the new date, with Knoxville Mayor Indya Kincannon saying what’s important is getting the project done right.
“If it means opening the stadium a bit later, it’s worth waiting a bit to make sure we end up with what we need and what we want,” she said.
If the stadium was not going to be ready for the 2024 opening day, there was hope that the team could split their home games between Kodak and Old Town after moving mid-season. However, team officials determined that this was not going to be a realistic option.
The team said in the statement that although the stadium could be completed earlier and become available for other events such as concerts, it would not be possible to move the team’s matches.
“With all the issues everyone is currently having with supply chain and labor issues, this news is disappointing but not unexpected,” Knox County Mayor Glenn Jacobs said in the communicated. “I think the responsible thing to do is to pause and come up with a good plan that addresses these new challenges.”
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Crew chiefs have previously said construction could not begin until infrastructure work, including the relocation of a water main that runs under the site, is complete. The team said work should begin within the next 60 days.
What that might mean for One Knoxville Sporting Club, which will share space with the Smokies, has not been determined. The football club kicks off its inaugural season in May and will play its home games this season at Austin-East High School, Knoxville Catholic High School and Maryville College.
The 2024 baseball schedule has always been aggressive, even before supply chain issues. University of Tennessee president and Smokies owner Randy Boyd has a stadium lease from Kodak that lasts through the 2025 season.
The total construction cost of the stadium is expected to be $80.1 million. Of this amount, $74.5 million will come from public taxes. The city and county bear most of the costs, but the state contributed $13.5 million and Boyd incurred $5.8 million for construction and any cost overruns.
Boyd also pledged to bring in at least $142 million in private funds to build 630,000 square feet of restaurants, retail stores and residences around the stadium.
In January, Boyd’s community development group GEM announced a nine-story, $45 million condominium building that will be named after Knoxville native Beauford Delaney, a black modernist painter associated with the Harlem Renaissance.