Proposed Publicly-owned Sports and Entertainment Stadium

Chief Economic and Community Development Officer and Deputy to the Mayor

Stephanie Welch
(865) 215-2029

400 Main St., Room 655
Knoxville, TN 37902

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The City of Knoxville and Knox County are jointly exploring the possibility of building a publicly-owned multi-use sports and entertainment stadium near downtown, just east of the Old City.

Rendering of aerial from the east
This rendering shows an aerial view from the east. Rendering courtesy of Boyd Sports LLC.

Bringing professional baseball back to Knoxville is undergoing a stringent review, and community conversations are underway. 

A newly-formed Sports Authority has been tasked with doing a deep study of a proposed publicly-owned sports and entertainment stadium and will finance, build and manage the stadium if the proposal moves forward.

Check out this video, showing the proposed site for a public stadium, taken by a drone flyover last October. The vacant site lies between Hall of Fame Drive, Jackson Avenue, Willow Avenue and Florida Street, just east of the Old City. Since these images were taken, the property owners have demolished many of the former meat-packing plant buildings. Stay tuned for additional photos and videos if the stadium projects moves forward.

“In making this investment, the public benefit has to be greater than the public cost,” Knoxville Mayor Indya Kincannon has said. “Our initial research shows that to be the case, and a highly experienced Sports Authority will be digging deeper and doing an independent analysis.

“This private-public partnership on a stadium has the potential to tie together Downtown, the Old City and East Knoxville while bringing a mostly vacant area back into reuse and creating new jobs and economic opportunities.”


  The Sports Authority Board will meet from 9 a.m. to 11 a.m. on Tuesday, June 22, 2021 at the Beck Cultural Exchange Center located at 1927 Dandridge Ave. 

Agenda items include selection of an attorney for the Authority; appointment of a committee to select a financial advisor; and review and discussion of a potential timeline for development of a proposed publicly-owned multi-use stadium just east of the Old City.
Members of the new Sports Authority, appointed jointly by City Council and County Commission in April 2021:

Richard H. Bass, a University of Tennessee graduate and a retired bank executive who served as trustee for the Maryland Sports Authority that issued bonds for construction of Orioles Park at Camden Yards, the Baltimore Ravens’ stadium, the Baltimore Convention Center and other facilities

Joan C. Cronan, UT Women’s Athletic Director Emeritus, speaker, author, consultant, community leader and member of eight different Halls of Fame

Jeff Hagood, founding partner with the Hagood Moody Hodge law firm, longtime President of the Knoxville Quarterback Club, and co-author of two sports-themed books – one on Vol standout Inky Johnson and the other, “A Perfect Season,” with UT Coach Phillip Fulmer

Tim Hill, co-founder and President of Hatcher-Hill Properties, which develops commercial and mixed-use properties in Knoxville with a focus on historic preservation and revitalization; Hill serves as a Knoxville-Knox County Planning Commissioner, on the boards of Knox Heritage and CareCuts, and as President of the Bearden Village Council

Alvin J. Nance, CEO of LHP Development, formerly the longtime Executive Director and CEO of Knoxville’s Community Development Corp., and the former Vice Chairman of the Tennessee Housing Development Agency

Nikitia Thompson, owner/broker of Realty Executives – Nikitia Thompson Realty, a former Chair of the KUB Board, secretary of the Knoxville Chamber Board and a community leader who actively works on diversity and equity issues

Rosalyn Tillman, retired Dean (and previously Assistant Dean) of Pellissippi State Community College’s Magnolia Avenue campus for 21 years; almost 3,000 high school students have successfully completed the Summer Institute, a collaborative effort between Pellissippi State and Project GRAD that Tillman implemented and directed

Click here to learn more about the Sports Authority Board


Questions? Email

Stephanie Welch
Deputy to Mayor / Chief of Economic and Community Development
City of Knoxville

Rebekah Jane Justice
Deputy Chief, Economic and Community Development
City of Knoxville

Chris Caldwell
Finance Director
Knox County


• Creating a Sports Authority is a non-binding step in the process of exploring the feasibility and cost-benefit analysis of building a publicly-owned stadium just east of the Old City

• The stadium would be leased to Boyd Sports and the Tennessee Smokies AA Southern League baseball team, but the facility would be designed to accommodate other sports and host hundreds of other non-baseball events each year, such as concerts, festivals or soccer games

• The stadium concourse would be open year round (except when in use for scheduled events) for community use, much like a park

• Smokies owner Randy Boyd has agreed to enter into a market-value 30-year lease that would allow the Smokies to play in the new stadium for decades to come

• As part of a larger redevelopment effort around the stadium, GEM Community Development Group, the private development partner to Boyd Sports, is planning to invest more than $100 million to build apartments, condos, restaurants and offices

• The Sports Authority will not be able to borrow funds for stadium construction without authorization from the City and County

• The City and County will review the development agreement, lease agreement, financing and construction documents to determine if the stadium project makes sense for the community; then, Council and Commission will vote on an interlocal agreement to authorize the Sports Authority to proceed with the project 

• If all goes well, construction could begin as early as fall 2021, and the multi-use stadium will be open for community use and events in 2023



• City of Knoxville: Mayors Jointly Recommend 7 Appointees to Serve on Sports Authority
• City of Knoxville & Knox County: Public Presentation, April 15, 2021 [PDF]
• City Social Media: Sports Authority Meets, Selects Officers


• Boyd Sports: Bring Baseball Back
• Boyd Sports: GEM Community Development Group donates $1.6 M to youth sports, Claude Walker Park makeover
• Boyd Sports: PowerPoint presentation at Sports Authority's May 20, 2021 meeting [PDF]


• Knoxville Area Urban League: GEM Community Development Group to Enter into Partnership with Urban League
Knoxville Area Association of Realtors: New poll shows voters support multi-use stadium