WATE: ‘Very good week’ for new stadium

Blake Stevens of WATE interviewed Randy Boyd this week at the site of the proposed stadium during what was a “very good week” for advocates of bringing baseball back to Knoxville.

The WATE segment can be watched HERE. Boyd, the owner of the Tennessee Smokies baseball team, also will appear on WATE’s “Tennessee This Week” on Sunday, May 2, at 12:30 p.m. to discuss the project in more detail, including private development and community benefits.

Blake Stevens, left, of WATE interviews Randy Boyd at the site of the proposed stadium on the edge of the Old City in East Knoxville.

On Monday, Knox County Commission joined Knoxville City Council in approving the members of a Sports Authority.

On Thursday, Tennessee Gov. Bill Lee’s 2021-22 fiscal budget passed and includes $13.5 million via a one-time grant for the project which eliminates the need for a special tax district around the stadium.

On Tuesday, the state House passed a bill sponsored by Rep. Jason Zachary to allow sales tax generated by all events inside the proposed new stadium – from sports to concerts to weddings – to pay down debt, and the state Senate followed on Wednesday in a bill sponsored by Sen. Becky Massey.

As Stevens said in his report: “The bases are LOADED.”

The seven-member sports authority consists of Richard H. Bass, a University of Tennessee graduate and retired bank executive who served as trustee for the Maryland Sports Authority that issued bonds for construction of Orioles Park at Camden Yards; Joan C. Cronan, UT women’s athletics director emeritus and member of eight different halls of fame; Jeff Hagood, founding partner with Hagood Moody Hodge law firm and longtime president of the Knoxville Quarterback Club; Tim Hill, co-founder and president of Hatcher-Hill Properties, which develops commercial and mixed-use properties in Knoxville and specializes in revitalization; Alvin J. Nance, CEO of LHP Development and formerly the longtime executive director and CEO of Knoxville’s Community Development Corp.; Nikitia Thompson, owner/broker of Realty Executives – Nikitia Thompson Realty and a community leader who actively works on diversity and equity issues; and Rosalyn Tillman, dean (and previously Assistant Dean) of Pellissippi State Community College’s Magnolia Avenue campus for 21 years.

The Sports Authority will conduct an extensive study of the proposed publicly owned sports and entertainment stadium and will finance, build and manage the stadium if the project moves forward.

It’s time to bring baseball home.