Stage set to start stadium construction

The site of the new stadium in on the edge of the Old City will connect the area with downtown and East Knoxville.

Now that the funding for a new multi-use stadium has been finalized, the heavy equipment can really get moving, and an official groundbreaking ceremony can be held within a few weeks.

The Sports Authority Board, a joint board of the City of Knoxville and Knox County, approved the issuance of $65 million in bonds, and Ryan Wilusz of the News Sentinel outlined it well HERE.

“This (vote) allows us to get into the market, tell people we have all the authorizations for the bonds,” Mark Mamantov, bond attorney for Knoxville and Knox County, told Knox News.

The $114 million stadium will be funded with $65 million in local government bonds; $13.5 million state grant; $2.5 million investment earnings on bonds and state grant; $13 million contribution from Boyd Sports founder Randy Boyd; and a loan from Boyd up to $20 million to Knoxville’s Community Development Corporation (KCDC) to be transferred to the Sports Authority for construction.

One role of KCDC is to serve as the redevelopment agency for the City of Knoxville and foster economic development. Boyd also provided the land, estimated to be worth $10 million, for the stadium. The owner of the Tennessee Smokies – which will be called the Knoxville Smokies upon returning to the city after 25 years – has up to $43 million committed to the project.

Boyd also will pay any costs above the $114 million guaranteed maximum price of the stadium, a figure that climbed amid a pandemic, supply chain issues and the cost of construction materials. The loan amount will be repaid to Boyd only after property taxes from new developments within the tax increment financing (TIF) district repay the city for an estimated $14 million in infrastructure improvements around the stadium.

“Jenny and I believe this is a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to make a major difference in our hometown that has given us so much,” Randy Boyd, referring to his wife and business partner, Jenny Boyd, told The Compass. “This is more than a business investment; it’s a community investment.”

The stadium’s total economic impact could be $480 million over the next 30 years with the creation of 3,000 jobs in construction and stadium operations and a projected 400 becoming full-time employment.

Two residential properties already are in development – Yardley Flats apartment complex and the Beauford Delaney Building condos.

The surrounding area has drawn considerable interest from developers even when the stadium was just in the talking stages in 2016.

According to a business story in the News Sentinel in March, “over the past seven years, 144 people and businesses have spent over $143 million to buy 237 parcels in the Old City and the Magnolia Warehouse District, according to a January Knox News analysis of property records.”

Work crews already are at the stadium site to clear and grade areas. With the official groundbreaking coming soon, the site will be transformed over the next two years with the Smokies baseball team set to start play in 2025.

It’s been a journey to get to this point – as is the case with all major projects. It will be worth it.