New stadium takes shape

The new stadium takes shapes in Knoxville. (Photo: Smokies Baseball)

The arrival of spring means baseball is about to start and while the Smokies will play one more season just down the interstate from Knoxville, all eyes also are on the new stadium as it takes shape.

The project is on schedule, and the stadium is expected to be ready for the 2025 season and the return of Minor League Baseball to Knoxville after 25 years.

The Tennessee Smokies – the team will go back to the moniker of Knoxville Smokies at its new home – posted some updated photos on social media on March 20 that show the structure of a ballpark.

While the excitement is escalating in Knoxville – this writer makes it a habit to drive by the site on a regular basis to see the progress – baseball is about to get underway in Kodak with a full slate of promotional games, including the always packed Star Wars Night (May 4); Elvis Night (May 31); Grateful Dead Night (June 1); Princesses in the Park (June 7); Christmas in July (July 20); Paint the Park Pink (Aug. 10); and UT Night (Aug. 24).

Single game tickets are on sale now and available HERE. New this year and mandated by Major League Baseball for its minor league teams is a net that extends fully down the first and third lines to the foul poles. Group and berm seating beyond the outfield areas and berm seating in foul territory are not affected.

“Fandemonium” Fan Fest, which is free, will be held Saturday, March 30, from 11 a.m.-2 p.m. at Smokies Stadium. The first 500 fans will receive a free voucher to any 2024 Smokies home game in April. Season ticket holders also can pick up their tickets, and attendees can purchase tickets on-site for any game this season. Fans that RSVP HERE in advance have the chance to win $50 stadium cash. The event also includes free prizes and experiences, such as tours.

The Smokies will have a new manager in 2024 with Lance Rymel taking the helm. Rymel, a former Smokies player, will enter his ninth season as a coach or manager in the Cubs organization with the last two spent at South Bend. The High-A affiliate of the Cubs won the Midwest League title in 2022.

Lance Rymel

Opening Day for the Smokies, the Double-A affiliate, is Friday, April 5, against the Rocket City Trash Pandas and will feature a celebration of the Smokies’ Southern League title in 2023. Game tickets are available HERE.

While fans in Knoxville have a lot to look forward to in 2025, get to the ballpark in 2024. Baseball is and will always be the national pastime. And Opening Day should also be a national holiday.

Maria Cornelius, a senior writer/editor for MoxCar Marketing + Communications, is a lifelong baseball fan and longtime Smokies season ticket holder.