Tennessee Smokies Baseball Club awaits construction of new stadium: CEG


As envisioned by Smokies owner Randy Boyd, the ballpark will be the centerpiece of a new $142 million development near Old Town Knoxville, featuring retail, residences, restaurants and potentially a new grocery store downtown. (Rendered Tennessee Smokies)

The Tennessee Smokies minor league baseball club is considering where the team will play if its new $80.1 million Old City stadium complex in Knoxville isn’t ready in 2024 for the opening of the season.

A team official told the Knoxville News Sentinel on March 22 that the club expects the resort to be ready for Opening Day in April 2024, but the schedule is getting “tight” and the Smokies are keeping their options open to find out. where they will play. This year.

His choices include playing half of the 2024 season at the Smokies’ current stadium in Kodak, east of Knoxville, before moving to the Old Town complex when it’s finished later that year or playing the entire season at Kodak and delaying the Old Town complex. open until the 2025 season.

The Knoxville news outlet reported that Smokies CEO Doug Kirchhofer told the local sports authority council on March 22 that construction cannot begin until infrastructure work, including moving a pipe of water that passes under the site, are not finished.

The Sports Authority is a joint council of Knox County and Knoxville that oversees funding for the project.

Kirchhofer added that the Smokies aren’t sure if there’s a precedent for a mid-season move, but are confident it would be difficult to operate at full capacity in two separate locations in the same season, according to the newspaper.

Plans call for more than just a baseball park

What that could mean for One Knoxville Sporting Club, which will share space with the Smokies, is yet to be decided. 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.

Co-owner Drew McKenna said One Knoxville Sporting Club is committed to a partnership that provides a versatile facility as efficiently as possible.

University of Tennessee president and Smokies owner Randy Boyd has a lease with Kodak Stadium that lasts through the 2025 season. the city and county have for the project has been aggressive.

The News Sentinel noted in its March 23 article that Boyd has never hesitated to cut short his Kodak lease and pay the resulting penalty once the new stadium is ready. While not ideal, it will save Boyd about $300,000 in rental penalties if the team waits until 2025 to leave for Knoxville, according to the newspaper.

Of the total projected construction cost of the stadium, $74.5 million will come from public coffers. Knoxville and Knox County foot the bulk of the bill, but the state contributed $13.5 million and Boyd incurred $5.8 million for construction plus any cost overruns.

He also promised to bring in at least $142 million in private funds to build 630,000 square feet. of restaurants, retail and residences surrounding Knoxville Stadium.

The Smokies Set to adjust the name

The Tennessee Smokies are a Double-A affiliate of the Chicago Cubs of Major League Baseball. The team’s longtime baseball stadium in Kodak’s metropolitan city of Knoxville can accommodate up to 8,000 fans. Ironically, the modern stadium in Knoxville is only expected to seat 7,000 people.

With this move, the baseball team will change its name to the Knoxville Smokies, a nickname it held for many years before moving to Kodak before the 2000 season.


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