Groundbreaking approaches … a look back
On Aug. 11, 2020, Boyd Sports owner Randy Boyd announced on Instagram that he had entered exploratory discussions to build a multi-use stadium in Knoxville.
“In a time when we are physically separated and not hearing a lot of good news, I want to share something I hope will rally folks together and get people excited,” Boyd wrote on the social post that can be read in its entirety HERE.
To quote the Grateful Dead, “what a long strange trip it’s been.”
At that point, the Smokies’ Minor League Baseball season had long been canceled. Major League Baseball played in empty stadiums with cardboard cutouts in place of fans. We had entered the lexicon of “essential workers,” “social distancing” and “work from home.”
Each day brought COVID case counts and hospitalizations and protocols – and the hope that perhaps normalcy would return. But fall football season in 2020 would start late with attendance restrictions, mask requirements and piped-in versions of “Rocky Top.” It would be another year and then some before any normalcy returned to sports, work and play.
This website debuted in 2020 to track all the progress and changes of the proposed stadium – and you can scroll near the end of the page HERE for all the blog posts for “The Hot Stove.”
As the project navigated a pandemic, major supply chain issues, delays and upheaval of financial markets, the final approval to proceed with construction finally arrived in spring 2023.
With the official groundbreaking coming in June, let’s take a look at some before and after photos as the site was razed to get ready for the final OK.
The top photo of this blog post is the first before. Here is the after.
The following photos also are before and after shots taken from the same spot.
Additional work on the site to prepare it for construction also took place in 2022 and 2023. This is what it looks like now.
Denark Construction posted a time-lapse of the razing of buildings to YouTube that can be watched HERE and below.
The project always has been described as “transformational.” That is underscored just by glancing at these photos and watching the short video.
To quote the Grateful Dead again:
Once in a while, you get shown the light
In the strangest of places if you look at it right
Maria Cornelius, a writer/editor for Moxley Carmichael, is a lifelong baseball fan and longtime Smokies season ticket holder.