Will a new Nashville Sounds baseball stadium be Karl Dean’s signature second-term issue?

Sunday, February 27, 2011 at 8:05pm
SulpherDell.jpg
Hope Gardens resident Jason Powell (Jude Ferrara/SouthComm)

Mayor Karl Dean’s administration is poised to bring in an outside firm to study whether and where to build a minor league baseball stadium, signaling a first step in the process of finding a new home for the Nashville Sounds. It also sets the stage for what could be a signature second-term project for Dean — if he’s re-elected this fall. 

Metro Finance Director Richard Riebeling told The City Paper last week that city government wouldn’t issue a request for proposals for the site-selection and feasibility study for another month or two. The bidding process and actual hiring of a firm — which could include an engineering, architecture or sports consulting company — would stretch well into the summer. Such a study is a long, exhaustive endeavor that would presumably include a series of community meetings and other efforts to solicit pubic input.
Recommendations would follow. 

That chronology, though speculative, seems to align with the outlook of Sounds representatives, who are under the impression that the ballpark won’t be atop Dean’s to-do list until after this August and September’s Metro elections. They’re assuming Dean would be re-elected to a second term, with underdog challenger Councilman Michael Craddock the mayor’s only declared opponent thus far. The Sounds say they’re comfortable with the timeframe. 

“Everybody, the administration and the Sounds leadership, have decided that it’s really going to be after the election before they get to refocus on this again,” said attorney Tom White, legal counsel and lobbyist for the Sounds. 

New York-based MFP Management is embarking on its third season as owners of the Sounds since purchasing the team in late 2008. From day one, the group has been clear about its desire for a new downtown ballpark to replace dilapidated Greer Stadium. Sounds owners, led by Frank Ward, ramped up their stadium pitch last winter, hiring White, a veteran real estate attorney, and public relations specialist John Seigenthaler Jr. to oversee the efforts. 

But for that entire period of time, the mayor’s office has been occupied with other matters. First was selling the Metro Council on Dean’s $585 million Music City Center. A few months later, a 1,000-year flood overwhelmed the city. Next came finalizing a public-private financing deal for a hotel to anchor the new convention center. Most recently was Dean’s stalled push to redevelop the Metro-owned fairgrounds, an effort that concluded with the council’s decision to stave off the demolition of the
Fairgrounds Speedway. 

“We’re at a juncture right now where we have basically discussed all of the above [issues] with the city administration,” White said. “And we basically had a consensus with them that right now is not the right time to prioritize [a new ballpark], but it clearly is a — what we’ve been told — a ‘high priority’ early in the next administration.” 

Asked whether the election date was a benchmark on negotiations with the Sounds, Riebeling, one of Dean’s top aides, downplayed it. 

“Elections are artificial dates,” he said. “That’s a fact. I can’t avoid it. But the process needs to be … we need to have an analysis of potential sites, and that’s what we’re going to start on.”

 

Tapping an outside firm is supposed to allow a third-party to objectively evaluate the need for a new stadium and recommend the optimal location to construct one. But once the process commences, stakeholders will already have their preferences. 

Sounds owners are hoping to build a new stadium at the 11-acre former thermal plant site, which sits on the west bank of the Cumberland River and is a stone’s throw from the honky-tonks of Lower Broadway. Previous Sounds owners had an agreement with Metro to construct a ballpark anchored by mixed-use ancillary development on the site, but the deal fell apart. 

“We welcome an independent study of the best place to build a new ballpark in Nashville,” Ward, principal Sounds owner, said in a written statement to The City Paper. “We have always made it clear we think the thermal site is the best location.”

But Dean has openly discussed his interest in plotting a stadium north of the state Capitol, on state-owned land that years ago served as the home of Nashville’s old ballpark, Sulphur Dell. As far as the thermal plant site is concerned, Dean has maintained that whatever is eventually there should make a statement about Nashville. He has said an outdoor music venue could achieve that goal. Among entities that have approached the mayor’s office about an amphitheater at the thermal plant site are the Nashville Symphony Center and Red Light Management, a company that manages musical artists like Dave Matthews Band. 

Constructing a stadium at Sulphur Dell has piqued the interest of others, too. In fact, there’s already a movement behind the idea, something not found in other sites bandied about (including the thermal plant site, property at the intersection of 11th Avenue North and Charlotte Avenue, the East Bank of the Cumberland, and land near Music City Center). 

Jason Powell, president of the Hope Gardens Neighborhood Association, which includes residents who live in a neighborhood nearby the Nashville Farmers’ Market, is part of a group that calls itself “Friends of Sulphur Dell.” Still in its infancy, the organization is debating whether it will remain a grassroots effort or eventually evolve into a lobbying arm, Powell said. 

For now, Powell and other group members — nearby residents and businesses, among others — have been pitching the idea around the community. He said his community organization and nearby Germantown, Buena Vista and other neighborhoods are just a few of the groups supportive of reviving baseball at Sulphur Dell. 

“The historical context of having a baseball park at the birthplace of baseball here in Nashville is definitely appealing,” he said. “We also think from an economic development standpoint, if the community embraces and supports a project like this, Sulphur Dell would really help spur development and interest in that surrounding area.” 

On that second point, Powell alluded to the Farmers’ Market, new condominiums and other buildings that have arrived in the area, adding that a new ballpark and mixed-use component could continue to accelerate growth north of the central business district. 

The push for Sulphur Dell also enjoys the support of some Metro Council members, including At-large Councilman Jerry Maynard, who has joined the “Friends of Sulphur Dell” cause. 

“We have not invested in the brick and mortar north of Charlotte [Avenue] like we’ve done in SoBro, like we’ve done in other areas of the town,” Maynard said. “This is a great chance for Metro government to show its support for economic development for all of Davidson County.”

Through its own initiative, working outside of Metro and separate from the Sounds organization, the Nashville Civic Design Center has been exploring what a stadium could look like at two locations: the so-called “North Gulch,” near 11th and Charlotte, and at Sulphur Dell. University of Tennessee College of Architecture students recently teamed up with the design center and produced designs for both sites. The group is set to display the renderings in early April. 

“It’s pretty compelling as a way to redevelop that area between Germantown and downtown, where there’s a lot of parking lots [owned by] the state,” NCDC design director Gary Gaston said of Sulphur Dell. “Another benefit of that site or the Gulch site is that we’re not just throwing another big-box thing down in the lower part of downtown, but we’re using [the ballpark] as a development tool to really reinvigorate an area.”  

56 Comments on this post:

By: alanhuffman on 2/28/11 at 6:37

Sulphur Dell would serve the city by nudging the Germantown area in the direction it is already going -- spurring economic development and increasing the tax base.

SoBro doesn't need further stimulus, evidence MCC. The Mayor is right to focus on a amphitheater at the thermal site.

The North Gulch, IMO, would best be a shopping district that flanks the ever trendy gulch, but certainly is a 2nd best location.

By: TITAN1 on 2/28/11 at 7:04

IMO, thermal site or PSC site would be the best locations.

By: gid on 2/28/11 at 7:25

If the stadium is to be in Germantown you might as well keep it where it is.

By: richgoose on 2/28/11 at 7:25

When you have a Mayor that thinks it is 1958 and all will be well in the future. Then by all means expect something like a new minor league ballpark.

By: curtwallen on 2/28/11 at 7:30

Curt Wallen
North would be a good location and would spur development but I suggest the administration consider the East Bank. At some point this has to be addressed. If the City truly wants to grow and create jobs and growth, then it must start the process of moving PSC metals and developing that area. The baseball stadium tucked in between the bridges and behind the new adventure waterpark would be a terrific start. Then maybe an amphitheater could be placed in North Nashville near the mall. Parking is plentiful and the views of the skyline at night would be breathtaking.

By: Community-carl-... on 2/28/11 at 7:54

While a new stadium would be nice, I can't help but wonder where the money will come from. The Metro general fund is already pledged as collateral for Dean's new convention center, and if anticipated tourist revenue dollars aren't adequate to make the bond payments....... the general fund ends up being tapped for these types of expenditures, and we already struggling taxpayers will most likely be facing a hefty property tax increase. Due to the realities of the rotten economy, we ordinary citizens/taxpayers are already overburdened.

There is no telling how much Dean and Reibeling intend to pay the "outside consulting firm" to conduct a feasability study for what, in their minds, is an already done deal. ( Sadly, more city funds being poured into an outside entity.) Dean is a big spender who doesn't know when to stop. It is time to stop and regroup.

Make Dean a one-tem mayor.

By: joe41 on 2/28/11 at 8:21

At least Nashville has had a series of big thinking mayors over the years. That is why Nashville is growing. Look around and see places that are stagnating. You can enumerate them. So, I say congratulations Nashville, for selecting forward thjinking folks. Who is the next one?
Joe

By: bruingeek on 2/28/11 at 8:51

Having a great baseball stadium might actually help baseball in Nashville...I'm just not a big fan. The SoBro area of Nashville is a year-round destination for visitors and will be even moreso with a larger convention venue. I would hate to see the old thermal plant site used for something that is not focused on year round use and that includes baseball and/or an outdoor amphitheater.

I'd vote for the Sulphur Dell area. It just seems like it would be in character with the park atmosphere that already exists nearby.

By: fdanshep on 2/28/11 at 8:59

Sulphur Dell will be perfect if it is your plan to eat at home, go straight to the game and go straight home after the game or get in your car and stop off somewhere else. And as far as joe41's inquiry about who will be the next forward thinking mayor- how about Craddock and the bond lady, Emily Evans, for mayor and vice-mayor? Now that would put things back in the dark ages!

By: JeffF on 2/28/11 at 9:55

I still see a lot of people trying to turn Nashville into big time cities like Memphis, Omaha, and Louisville with their little league stadiums in downtown areas plans. It is truly a shame when a city has an opportunity to think big but instead decides to dedicates resources to minor league sports on prime real estate.

Build the stadium where it makes sense as a business, not where we think redevelopment would be a good idea. Leave the big thinking to the big ideas.

By: cl74 on 2/28/11 at 10:01

The only problem with the Sulpher Dell area is that it will not attract as many tourist. Not that anyone can ever plan on tourist on a regular basis but if the park is where the tourist are then there is a better chance of drawing some in. I also agree 100% with fdanshep about Craddock and Evans if they go in then everything will be gone including the Sounds along with tourist.

By: cl74 on 2/28/11 at 10:04

JeffF...What are you talking about?????Big time cities like Memphis, Omaha and Louisville??? Where do you want the stadium?

By: nashwatcher on 2/28/11 at 10:15

my vote is to make the new ballpark readily accessible to tourists...so if they want to walk to a game, last minute, they can...

the thermal site might not be the best option, but putting it near the mcc and honky tonks seems to make the most sense...and for families, they can walk down to the riverfront after that is developed, as well...

By: BigPapa on 2/28/11 at 11:16

"Where do you want the stadium?" Murfreesboro would be my first choice..

Seriously though, Jeff was being sarcastic when he said "big time cities". The point being that Nashville is beyond those small time cities and beyond little league ball.

By: airvols on 2/28/11 at 11:31

This stadium needs to go on the east bank of the Cumberland River to create a sports zone and entertainment disrict. Suphler Dell is not the place and it will not be successful at that location.

By: cl74 on 2/28/11 at 11:31

I wouldn't say that Nashville is beyond little league ball. Look at Cincinnati they have MLB and the NFL but their hockey team the Cyclones are in the ECHL which is like double A baseball. Milwaukee has MLB, NBA and somewhat the NFL and their hockey team is AHL. At this team with the Preds and Titans we are lucky to still have a triple A baseball team.

By: TITAN1 on 2/28/11 at 11:32

Jeff said the other day it should go in a neighborhood. I asked him how he would like it right next to his house or better yet how his neighbors would like it. He never replied, unless he waited til the story hit the back page.

By: Mike Byrd on 2/28/11 at 1:33

As someone from the Salemtown association who was invited last Spring to participate in discussions about Sulphur Dell, I am concerned that Jason Powell's group is moving on without those of us who had honest questions about traffic, infrastructure demands, and growth, as well as the impact of those on developing a sustainable, pedestrian community. My impression after that meeting was that both Salemtown and Buena Vista had some concerns that needed to be addressed while Germantown and Hope Gardens were willing to lobby for Sulphur Dell without any other deliberation.

I brought these concerns before Jason and his group back in April 2010 (it seems like there were 15 or so in attendance), but was never invited back afterwards. I even committed to work with the Nashville Civic Design Center to have community meetings where neighbors could address their concerns. At the end of last summer, I found out that a couple of people from Jason's pro-stadium group had already met with them. Then Gary Gaston told me that NCDC had no immediate plans for community meetings.

I was told by a stadium-supporter that the initiative for Sulphur Dell is coming from the Courthouse, perhaps even the Mayor's office, so for Joey Garrison to call this group grassroots is a stretch based on my experience. I had also heard that CM Jerry Maynard supported this before Jason ever called the group together. In my opinion Jason's group has not been inclusive of the community in their bid to focus strictly on economic development without concerns for community development.

I raised some of these issues at the North Nashville Plan community meetings, because I believe that the community ought to inform this development process rather than having it dictated to us from the Courthouse. I don't remember seeing any City Paper reporters at the North Nashville planning meetings. It seems to me that the Friends of Sulphur Dell are too exclusively focused on the PR effort to include the community concerns.

By: TennTrue on 2/28/11 at 3:34

Why not put the ballpark at the fairgrounds site?

By: slacker on 2/28/11 at 3:38

I suggest that the owners of the Sounds either refurbish Greer, or use their own funds to buy or lease land, and build their own stadium. Its time for Nashville taxpayers to stop subsidizing sports teams. I know, thats how its done now, yadda..yadda. Buts lets be different, and let wealthy people finance their own ventures. Maybe put it on a yes / no vote referendum in the upcoming election. That would provide Mr. Byrd answers to community concerns.

By: Vuenbelvue on 2/28/11 at 3:50

Why not wait until the consultant chosen does their job? There may be many factors people are not considering. Are Nashville Taxpayers ready to finance another $60-$80 million public spending project? Are the Owners going to invest also? Does the State want to lease Sulfur Dell land? Did you know that there would have been only 20-25 parking spaces at the old thermal site if that had been built? The public would have paid Central Parking prices? What are the attendance numbers of minor league ball? Is it a growth industry? The reporter said a outside consultant, again no one in Middle Tennessee is qualified, will unbiasedly give a report at a fee in the several hundred thousands of dollars range. Sounds like the mayor's office and others have already made a decision by reading the full article by Joey Garrison. They will need 10 to 15,000 season ticket buyers to make anything work. Are you willing to put up your money?

By: JeffF on 2/28/11 at 5:28

Mr. Byrd has some wonderful comments. Personally, I would not mind a stadium in my area. In fact I did send to the mayor's office and the previous Sounds' owners a site suggestion within maybe 1000 yards from my home. It was ignored because there was free land to be had and a development to make money off of.

I was indeed being sarcastic in my previous post. Are you not a little tired of being drug down to the little league of cities by people born without the ability of seeing the true economic impact of little league sports?

Last week I named at least 6 sites that would make sense for sports of this dubious levels. Those were in neighborhoods of actual people and businesses. Does downtown need yet another influx of taxpayer capital funds to "spur development?"

I propose that a consultant be hired to look at the locations of the 5 leading PCL stadiums. Sacramento, Round Rock, Albuquerque, Iowa, and Salt Lake City. What will they find? Definetly not downtown locations or proximity to bars. What they will find are stadiums surrounded by parking lots and oriented to family attendance. They will find that each of their stadiums are over a decade old.

Yes, the five leaders in attendance have lived through the PCL new stadium boom. They have passed by the Memphis downtown stadium economic disaster. They are well beyond the OKC new stadium boomlet.

Seriously Nashville, learn things from other cities. This is little league, AAA baseball. They are building a Wrigley or Jacobs or Camden here. There are no tourists filling little league stadiums and building new ones will not change that. Build a reasonably priced stadium, in a reasonable area and leave these backwards thinking, "I need a bar near my stadium", baseball fans in the dust.

The Sounds were purchased by land developers for a reason. It was an "in" to getting their hands on prime, tax free, riverfront property and the MDHA financing arrangements.

Please build this in a location my family and other families can attend regularly. Don't build this in the same location other cities have already failed with. If that means the "evil" burbs communities without a bar within 20 miles then so be it. At least it would be in an area where AAA baseball has been documented to succeed.

By: cl74 on 2/28/11 at 8:59

JeffF. The problem with this is what if it was not near my neighborhood? Am I and everyone else not near the stadium going to drive out of my way to see them play. Putting the stadium downtown has nothing to do with being around bars. Bars doesn't draw families. Have you been to Preds games? Mostly made up of families and these families don't drive down to the game to drink.

I don't think downtown Round Rock, Albuquerque, Sacramento, Des Moines and Salt Lake City is anything like downtown Nashville. I would almost bet that downtown has more tourist in a six to eight week period than most of these places have in an entire year.

You say that tourist doesn't draw to "little league" baseball? Maybe you should go and ask the City of Sevierville about how tourist expands their actual attendance. Go to hotels in Pigeon Forge and Gatlinburg and look at the public transportation that comes by and pick people up just to take them back to interstate to watch a much smaller "little league" double A ball.

Putting the stadium downtown has nothing to do with bars. It is centrally located for everyone to go to. Also once the Music City Center is finished it will draw some baseball fans from the conventions.

By: JeffF on 2/28/11 at 11:55

Memphis, Omaha, OKC, Portland

All cities with shiny downtown liitle league stadiums.
All near centers dedicated to the dying convention industry.
All suffering declining attendance at their stadiums and finishing outside the above lust.

If the convention business was as good as it's hype there would he no need for further "investment" in downtown. As it stands this is all one daisy chain of economic waste. Why our there people still unaware of the basic concepts of opportunity costs and sunk costs?

Please note the top 5 attendance leaders are doing so without tourism. Also please note that the The Smokies are not even a leader in AA attendance even with tourists supposedly leading the way.

By: JeffF on 3/1/11 at 12:12

I will add that if central location were important as well as access, that Metro Center and Would actually be the correct location geographically. The regional population center would be somewhere between Greer and OHB. Possibly the zoo area. Downtown Nashville is just not important on either count.

I would invite you to reexamine the Pred demographic. The averages skew way toward late 30s early 40s with kids only being present in countable numbers on weekend games.

And anyway, tourism isn't even a top 10 industry in Nashville when looking at real employment and economic impact numbers. Encouraging public investment based on effect on tourism is like choosing toilets based on the sound of the flush.

By: TITAN1 on 3/1/11 at 5:43

Jeff, when you call the Sounds 'Little League' you are trying to cut down AAA baseball, yet you say you would like to have the stadium in your back yard. First of all it is not Little League, it is very good professional baseball that is affordable to families. Little League baseball is is a lot of fun also, children learning the game and having a good time. Little League is in the neighborhoods where it should be. A new AAA stadium should be in or near downtown where the other venues are located. You have made it obvious that you don't like downtown or tourists. If I were you, I would find that fictional town of Mayberry and move in with Andy and aunt Bee. Hope you have a wonderful day and if you are downtown, be careful and don't bump into any tourists, most of us welcome them with open arms. BTW Jeff, I don't live or even work downtown and my career has nothing to do with tourism. Downtown or next to LP is the logical choice, I don't gain anything no matter where it is built.

By: JeffF on 3/1/11 at 7:40

Having grown up in Sevier and Blount counties I am more aware of the detrimental effects of basing community services, investment, and effort into tourism. There are a bunch of my childhood friends scattered all over the country who refused to remain hostage to tourism's last place wages and cyclical poverty. My hometown is controlled by the tourism overlords and will not allow investments in the needs of actual citizens. Sad to see it begin to happen here with this mayors emphasis on citizen-free downtown and facilities for bringing in the tourons while the schools crumble and neighborhoods lack sidewalks and interconnecting bus service.

By: richgoose on 3/1/11 at 7:43

Why would a tourist or that matter a person with an imagination and lots of money want to go to a minor league baseball game?

By: Community-carl-... on 3/1/11 at 8:08

I have nothing against baseball, or any sports, for that matter. Of course everyone wants a shiny new baseball stadium.........

BUT, I think Dean needs to slow down and stop obligating Nashville citizens with debt that will take generations to pay off. After he has moved on to higher politcal aspirations, we taxpayers will be left holding the bag (of debt).

It's common sense, folks.....we can't keep spending money we don't have.

By: BigPapa on 3/1/11 at 9:08

"will not allow investments in the needs of actual citizens" This is my main beef with Dean. Everything is being done to make Nashville a nice place to visit, but little to make a great place to live.

By: cl74 on 3/1/11 at 9:27

JeffF. So you grew up in Sevier and Blount Counties, we congratualtion I grew up in East Tennessee. I get the fact that you don't like downtown but the fact that our 2 pro sports teams play there it only makes since to put them there too. The other cities in which you speak of don't have any pro sports, that makes a difference because you are talking about a smaller city with small downtowns that mainly operate an 8 to 5 shift.

You can't blame Sevier County on tourism, if anything it gives people jobs that most in East Tennessee don't have. The problem is East Tennessee in general, Scott, Morgan, Cocke, Sevier, Loudon, Campbell, Blount, Claiborne, Grainger and many more all have people scattered all over the country because they are so little employment opportunities. Sure you have Knox, Anderson and the Tri-Cities that do have people that come from those area but more are leaving East Tennessee all together.

You also need to check the Preds games yourself, outside of big rival games such as the Hawks and Wings there are many kids there. The Sharks game which was played on a Tuesday had plenty kids there.

I also don't get what you are saying about a citizens free downtown. Sure on Broadway and 2nd Avenue is mostly made up of tourist but once you get away from that area it is mainly made up of all locals. It sounds like to me you don't go downtown very often, maybe you should try it.

By: cl74 on 3/1/11 at 9:44

JeffF one more question for you. Outside of Philadelphia which built a multisports plex. How many cities that have pro-sports have their stadiums or arenas outside of their downtown area?

By: wayneCaluger on 3/1/11 at 9:51

As a youngster I spent many a day attending games at old Sulfur Dell Park and while I miss it the park had many short comings the biggest being right field. I don't recall the distance, but it was so close they built a huge mound referred to as the dump so they could get the right field fence high enough to minimize cheap home runs. Perhaps this location would bring back memories of Boston Fenway Park left field Green Monster wall for the mayor Dean.

Should Nashville get a new ball park it should be built in such a way to allow for expansion in the event Nashville should get a shot at a major league franchise. I don't think the old Sulfur Dell location provides the space for a good single A or AAA ball park much less any potential expansion room for a major league park.

Parking at Sulfur Dell was an issue back in the late 1950's early 1960's and it's far worse of an issue today. I think those considering the old Sulfur Dell site needs to go to the newspaper archives and read about all the issues with this site prior to getting their hopes up on building a field of dreams unless you want to bulldoze Farmers Market, the Memorial area and streets up for a baseball park and parking.

A quick foot note: After the Nashville Vols folded Sulfur Dell was converted into a short dirt race track. Proponents of the Sulfur Dell site might want to talk to the bulldoze the Fairgrounds Race Track in case Sulfur Dell becomes the new baseball park site and it flops.

My vote would be the old Thermal site. Clean slate allowing for properly designed baseball stadium with potential seating expansion; better access from several directions compared to just Jefferson Street and 8th Ave Rose Park Blvd and ample parking with very close walking distance or trolley service.

By: yucchhii on 3/1/11 at 11:09

The city says they don't have the $$$$ to take care of the roads in Nashville, especially in the winter time. They don't have the money to get sand and rocksalt to spread over the roads to prevent BLACK ICE. For 2 1/2 years that I've been here in Nashville and have seen snow on the ground, I'd seen...maybe...4 snowplows go by me, BUT...the plows weren't even touching the ground!!! So they DON'T have the $$$ to take care of the streets BUT........ They have PLENTY $$$$ to build a NEW convention center that "NOBODY" wants. Then they have PLENTY money to build an 800 room hotel next door to the NEW convention center, right behind the country music hall of fame. Now he wants to build a baseball stadium when we ALREADY HAVE ONE. BUT YET THERE'S "NO" $$$ FOR THE ROADS. Y'ALL ARE BITCHING ABOUT ALL THE ACCIDENTS WHEN ROADS ARE SLIPPERY!!! Maybe you can get the city to pay for repairs to your vehicle when you get crunched by a tractor trailor...Lol. Whe are you people going to "WAKE UP".....HELLO?

By: TITAN1 on 3/1/11 at 12:17

Peter, is that you?

By: TITAN1 on 3/1/11 at 12:19

Anyway, I hope you copied and pasted your comment you have used multiple times.

By: Kosh III on 3/1/11 at 12:22

I don't care where it's located, I doubt I'd attend.
All I care is that the Sounds pay for the land, pay for the stadium, pay for everything and NOT one penny of taxpayer funds go for this.
This is still a captitalist country right? Free enterprise? sink or swim? NO welfare for the Sounds.

By: JeffF on 3/1/11 at 12:41

Cities with downtowns not cluttered by minor league sports facilities:

Sacremento
Salt Lake City
Round Rock
Albuquerque
Des Moins

Not that hard to separate the minor league sports from the hype of actual major league sports. Please note that the cities with their minor league sports located downtown with their major league ones are the ones on the Poor Performing list. There are some people suddenly appearing in the NCP comments who are not able to distinguish major leagues from minor leagues and will ride that confusion all the way to another downtown failure.

Just to throw more fuel on the fire, these are the major league stadiums not located with the tall pointy buildings of downtown areas:
Miller Park
Dodger Stadium
Yankee Stadium
Citi Field
Wrigley Field
U.S. Cellular Field
Sun Life Stadium ---> Miami Ballpark (2014)
Tropicana Field
Fenway
Coors Field
Turner Field
Kauffman Stadium
The Ballpark in Arlington
Angel Stadium

By all means if Pittsburgh, Cleveland, and Baltimore did it for their major league teams, then by all means, lets do it for our little league one. Don't let the failings of all the other downtown minor league stadiums get in the way of this odd little crusade. We must have a plethora of bars near our little league stadium or 400 people who live nearby will not come!!!!!! More bars than parking spaces!!!

Bad news Wayne, the thermal site is not big enough for a major league stadium. Especially since the developer/owners of the team will want to put mixed-use developments on the already tight property. That was after all why they purchased the team, to get hold of that thermal plant property for their primary business.

By: JeffF on 3/1/11 at 12:59

And by the way C174, Sacramento and Salt Lake City managed to have minor league sports facilities away from the major league ones. I know many people would not consider the Kings and the Jazz "major league" but they nonetheless are members of the NBA and do play big time teams in home games in their arenas. They are in the list of successful PCL clubs at the gate, are not located in downtowns, and do not compete for customers with the NBA.

A minor league game in the summer will consist of a crowd of around 50% kids. If you can equate that to "many kids" at the Preds games you are crazy. I was at the Sharks game. There were some kids there. They were on the TV taking their shirts off. But there were far, far, far fewer then you would see at any Sounds game during the Summer. I am sorry you think of the Predators as the same family value as a little league game.

What hurts the rural East Tennessee counties the most is that government owns a majority of the land and does not contribute to the local tax base. Since tourism is incapable of paying its own way let alone provide real economic opportunity or growth that means there are a lot of gaps in services. This has locked these communities into economic prisons. I cringe whenever Bredesen accepted large land tracts from well-meaning preservationists who bought it from evil lumber or coal companies. This was yet another nail in the coffins of these counties who still have to educate kids and protect citizens with a shrinking tax base. Sadly, the "tourism boom" from all this preservation never comes in. Tourism is the slot machine from hell. It never pays off.

By: JeffF on 3/1/11 at 1:04

I noticed the majority of the "save downtown" major league sports arenas are located in the Rust Belt cities or cities like St Louis which are shrinking at alarming rates. Maybe we should aim a little higher that Cleveland, Cincinatti, Pittsburgh, Detroit, and Baltimore? Portland did not and their downtown stadium has worse attendance that Greer, even with their perfect little Utopian rail and trolley systems and anti-sprawl laws.

Shouldn't pick on Detroit....thems people are living in Mad Max times.

By: TITAN1 on 3/1/11 at 1:13

Wow! Jeff, did you get mugged downtown? You really do hate tourists and downtown. I guess you really do want it to be a ghost town. What are you, a coroner or in some other gloomy profession?

By: JDG on 3/1/11 at 1:20

Wonder if jefff (yes, little j, little f) would have the stones to make these same "little league" comments in front of the team roster of the Sounds?

By: Mike Byrd on 3/1/11 at 1:25

More on baseball in Nashville and my first-hand experience w/the supporters of a new ballpark at Sulphur Dell:

http://bit.ly/hnvqOB

By: cl74 on 3/1/11 at 1:30

JeffF most of the baseball stadiums you mention are in the considered downtown area. Coors Field, Fenway, Miller Park, Turner Field and Dodger all sit within view of their downtown. The Rangers and Angels have always been located in the surburb of their city. Wrigley and the old Comiskey were built back in the early 1900 when there was not much to any downtowns. The Mets and Yankees both play in borrough both of which original stadiums were built in the early to mid 1900's. Besides where in Manhattan are you going to put a MLB stadium? However all of these are in a more urban dense area. You are talking about putting a stadium in the true burbs, that will only draw fans from that area. Example if the stadium was put in Green Hills then people from Madison is not going to attend or vice versa. We could put it in Lebanon out by the great Nascar track and see how well it does by that. Again this has absolutely nothing to do with bars, there are bars all over Nashville not just downtown. Like I said if you are taking a family then you have no plans to go in any bars. I like downtown, I think somewhere downtown is where the stadium should go. Not at Church and Fifth but somewhere in that area.

As far as tourism for the Sevier County. Go and ask the County Executive office what they think about the millions of tax dollars that tourism has brought and continues to bring into their County. Just think what that area would like with no tourist and what the unemployment rate would be. I would say they would take the tourist over none.

By: JDG on 3/1/11 at 2:00

There are 30 major league teams in the US, comprised of 25 man rosters, for a total of 750 players. There are an additioanl 30 or so Triple "A" teams for another 750.There are approximately 20,000,000 people in the US who play baseball. If math serves, that means that those reaching the Triple "A" level are in the top .000075 of their chosen discipline. I wonder how that would compare with, say, a graduate engineering degree from, say Tennessee Tech................oh wait TTU doesn't crack the top 100 schools list. Do they even have a graduate program? Little League degree, indeed. Hey jeffie, we know you have a bee in your bum over TIF, but your denigration of the young men who have risen to the Triple "A" level of baseball is unbecoming at best and downright misguided, ignorant, and wrong at worst.

By: JDG on 3/1/11 at 2:12

YOUR ATTENTION PLEASE:

All you District Court judges who are not Supreme Court Justices are "little league".
All medical residents, you are not doctors, you are "little league".
All news room editors who are not editors-in-chief, strictly "little league".
All undergraduates with no Masters degree are "little league, no wait, all Masters degree holders without a Doctorate are "little league".
All accountants who do not hold a CPA, yep, "little league".
All Nationwide drivers are hereby relegated to "little league" status because you don't drive Sprint Cup.

Feel free to add more, anyone.

By: JeffF on 3/1/11 at 3:18

I don't know, how does the team located in the suburbs of Austin manage to rank #2 in attendance in the PCL? Or the SLC team located in the exurban area of their city rate in the top 5?

The baseball hags are getting a little defensive about their little sport. Tell you what, I will quit making fun of your little game and you will stop trying to talk economics and business with those of us with an education and experience in such.

I would talk to the Sevier County "Mayor" the next time I am at home. Since county mayors are little more than glorified HR mangers in Tennessee's county government structure the conversation will no doubt be fruitless since economic knowledge is unimportant in achieving that position. Just have to be an Ogle or Reagan or married into one of the families. He may have time to talk in the winter when the county unemployment rate is in the 20s to 30s. Curiously, Sevier County has the same poverty and unemployment rates as nearby Cocke county, yet their neighbor has tremendously less tourism (almost zero). Wonder how that happened?

It is so difficult to reason with people who's only education sports or getting people into their bar without having to pay anything to do it.

Clarification: anyone not in the commonly labeled "Big Leagues" has to be conversely labeled as being in "Little Leagues". That is how language works, unless you want to coin the "Somewhere in the middle leagues". The opposite of "big" is "little". Percentages or numbers has no effect on language. Since little league baseball has a well documented issue with illiteracy with its foreign born players I would give those guys a pass for not knowing they weren't in the Big Leagues. But only until they learn English and drop talking about themselves in the third-person.

Mr. Byrd your piece is very, very good. I also ask myself this question frequently, if minor league baseball is such a big economic winner, why is the area around Greer so utterly hopeless? Answer, 72 nights a year is nothing in the life of a city. Stadium proponents don't want to create vitality and life, they need their stadium to leach off of it. Right now it looks like a lot of baseball fan boys think Wrigleyville is the greatest thing ever and want to create that here. If only they would look at the other cities who have tried and failed doing the same thing with little league baseball and looked at the cities who chose to do the correct thing and are succeeding. Cubs fans aren't the only ones wearing blinders to the truth of their situation.

By: cl74 on 3/1/11 at 4:13

First off Sevier County unemployment is not in the 20's. Scott and one other are the only two in the state that is above 20%. According to the Tennessee Department of Labor the last reported unemployment was at 14.7. While that is still higher than the average you or anyone else can not tell me that without all of those restuarants, stores and hotels that it would not be much, much higher than it is right now. And also there is no county in that area that has an unemployment of almost zero they would be lucky to have one as low as 5.

You seem to be changing your story a little. When we started this it was about how you wanted near your neighborhood so you could take your family, now you are saying that you will quit making fun of our little game. Which one is it? If you don't go and don't ever plan on going then why do you care where it goes?

You have also confused me on the whole Wrigleyville thing??? You are saying that they think that Wrigleyville is the greatest thing ever and want to create that here. The last time I check Wrigley Field is not in downtown Chicago, while it is not out of the city it is not downtown. You even mentioned that in a previous post, about how Wrigley Field is not downtown. Unless I am wrong I think most people on here want the stadium somewhere in the downtown area Thermal Site, Sulpher Dell, East Bank or SoBro around the convention center. Are you saying it should go there now? Or are you saying that Nashville shouldn't have baseball at all? You have thrown me off with this one. You went from talking about Rust Belt with their downtown stadiums to Wrigley Field being out of downtown.

While AAA is not Major League Baseball, it is considered professional baseball. Most of these players will play some in MLB and they get payed enough to where they don't need another job. I would also have to say they fly to their away games instead of taking a bus like AA and below. You also said something about why the area around Greer Stadium is not utterly hopeless. Well outside of some warehouses, stores and whatever that thing is the Science Center uses there is nothing there. You also have worry about if your car is going to be there after the game. Once again your statement proves why it should be in the downtown area. A downtown stadium could be used during nights when the team is on a road trip. Live music or whatever, it would draw where the crowd is.

By the way I am very educated in business and economics with experience to go with it. But like yourself I am not an expert at this, it is just where I would like to see it. Also you have a problem with bars, the only bars that I know of downtown that you pay to get in is on 2nd avenue.

By: TITAN1 on 3/1/11 at 4:15

jeffy always talks about his education when backed into a corner, but common sense is something he lacks.

By: wayneCaluger on 3/1/11 at 5:04

Bad news Wayne, the thermal site is not big enough for a major league stadium. Especially since the developer/owners of the team will want to put mixed-use developments on the already tight property. That was after all why they purchased the team, to get hold of that thermal plant property for their primary business.

It may not be large enough with or without adding a mixed-use developments, but is better suited than the Old Sulfur Dell site with a right field fence of about 210. You had to golf a ball over right field fence onto the old ice house. Sulfur Dell was between 3rd and 4th Ave. with home plate angled toward 4th. Not enough room for even a minor league ballpark.

So as small as the thermal site might be it has to be the better of the two choices. Hated to see Sulfur Dell and minor league baseball go, but putting another ball park at that location would be a waste of money and a sure kill from the parking stand point alone.