Frank Ward: Sounds weigh in on stadium discussion

Monday, September 13, 2010 at 9:55am
Frank Ward

As Nashville renews the discussion about where to build a new baseball stadium, it is time to clearly state the Nashville Sounds’ position.

It is our understanding that the City of Nashville is in talks with another group that is interested in building an amphitheater on the downtown thermal transfer site. The Nashville Sounds leadership has carefully analyzed all the locations that have been previously mentioned, and we believe that the downtown thermal transfer site along the Cumberland River is the most feasible location.

Therefore, we propose a multi-use facility — a ballpark that would also serve as an amphitheater for outdoor concerts while incorporating the greenway to provide a park-like setting. This facility would create a family-friendly environment for Middle Tennesseans to enjoy baseball, outdoor musical events and a beautiful “green” venue on the Cumberland.

This type of multi-use facility on the thermal site in Nashville would optimize the use of the city’s already considerable investment on the riverfront by capitalizing on the LP Field surface parking, the proposed Music City Center structured parking, and the Shelby Street Bridge renovation.

We estimate a new baseball park on the thermal site would bring 400,000 to 500,000 fans to see the Nashville Sounds annually. Downtown workers and visitors could walk within minutes to a riverfront ballpark/amphitheater on the thermal site, and there would be easy interstate access, too.

Building a multi-use facility would be less expensive than building two separate facilities on two different sites. We don’t know yet what a proposed amphitheater alone might cost to build. Atlanta has a new amphitheater that reportedly cost $35 million. Maybe Nashville could do it for less.

Regardless, we are sure that a multi-use facility would dramatically reduce that cost and leave Nashville with additional money to spend on other projects. In addition, the total annual operating expenses would be much less for one site.

Isn’t it time that the baseball proponents and the amphitheater proponents try to work together for the good of Nashville? Would a multi-use facility be perfect for either group? Perhaps not. But by compromising, it might be perfect for Nashville. The thermal site is simply the most feasible, economical, accessible and “greenest” site available. 

Frank Ward is co-owner of the Nashville Sounds 

20 Comments on this post:

By: JeffF on 9/13/10 at 11:59

Give it up. If you want to participate in downtown development don't use baseball as your backdoor. Offer to buy the land and build your apartments/condos/offices/retail and then you don't have to scrape low to the MDHA shadowgovernment as well as King Dean. With free taxpayer land comes tremendous meddling by the MDHA and the mayor. Be your onw man, buy the land, pay the proerty taxes, develop more of what you want, keep all the profits. Playing footsie with Metro never works out with anyone Have you not looked at the wreckage of the public/private "partnerships" West of the Cumberland?

Metro has removed so much property from the public tax rolls in downtown that the community is no longer capable of paying for its own necessary government services. As in Detroit, Cleveland, and other rust belt cities, the government will eventually not be able to keep up with the maintenance of all these public facilities and it will exacerbate the decay.

Make downtown strong. Let it stand as a beacon for private development and enterprise, not force fed government "redevelopment" projects. Eventually the city and residents will no longer be able to continue their codependent relationship with the downtown collective/commune. Stop that by developing it yourself and keeping Emperor Dean and King Ryan out of your business.

By: JeffF on 9/13/10 at 12:04

Also please note that glorious Prtland is dead last in attendance in your league with its beautiful, sparkly, downtown mixed-used facility. They manage to get 500 fewer people per night in the seats even with all that tax money being spent on the facility, downtown focused public transportation system, and similar hostility toward close parking.

By: producer2 on 9/13/10 at 1:12

You just continue to make stuff up, they do not have a new stadium and are in the same boat as Nashville.
From Wikipedia:
The Portland Beavers are a minor league baseball team, representing Portland, Oregon in the Pacific Coast League (PCL). It is the Triple-A affiliate for the San Diego Padres. September 6th, 2010 marked the last game for the Beavers at their home, PGE Park--formerly known as Civic Stadium and Multnomah Stadium--and the team now awaits a verdict on a new home. They will play in a yet to be determined city until a new ballpark is built.
Portland (PCL) -- 66 home dates, 341,351 attendance, 5,171 per game

Nashville (PCL) -- 66 home dates, 296,649 attendance, 4,494 per game

Neither of these teams are last. The team in last place is Colorado Springs.

(From the Austin Business Journal for 2009 figures)

By: Kosh III on 9/13/10 at 1:35

Feel free to build there, make it multi-use. Just buy the land, provide your own money and build it--with your money, not the taxpayers.

By: on 9/13/10 at 1:55

Never the less Producer2, JeffF has a valid point. Nashville has a lot of central core property that's not on the tax rolls anymore. There is a whole block between Church & Commerce and 7th & 8th ave's. that is not paying property taxes because the Feds took it to build the beautiful new Federal Courthouse, you remember it don't you? Oh, sorry it's never been built, and problbly never will be. A huge parcel south of Broadway for the MMC, now off the rolls. Take a look people, all this new building you see is costing more that what the building costs are. Private development really is the answer. The west side of the riverbank should be developed not with non revenue producing maintenance intensive feel good projects but with sound business ideas. If that is done then private businessmen will flock to take advantage of the opportunity's that government has helped create. Cantilevered decks that cater to 1st and 2nd ave crowds as well as plenty of boat docking areas to give the many recreational boaters a place to spend more of their money would pay for itself and bring in real revenue. Nashville taxpayers need to think more about the money and less about greenways, free water playgrounds and bike paths.

By: JeffF on 9/13/10 at 2:36


Don't let the government and the people who live off of it continue to decide what is best for downtown. Free downtown from the bonds of MDHA tyranny and slavery and let business do business there without the input from government. If the people in government (or the MDHA shadowgovernment) were capable of succeeding in business they would not be working where they are now.

It is time to have business start running things. They can make money AND pay taxes. When I say BUSINESS I do not mean the sham hospitality and meetings industry (which puts nothing back into the community and keeps its own tax revenues), I mean businesses with high wages, benefits, and full-time hours.

Downtown should be where business does business. Instead we have an area with pseudo culture and government owned and/or run facilities pretending to do business. We can get developers to come here without taking money, just by promising to keep the unelected bureaucratic class (like MDHA) out of the way.

By: JeffF on 9/13/10 at 3:09

West bank downtown not on real estate tax rolls:

convention center #1
convention center #2
The upcoming Omni
library (2 of them)
all state buildings
First Baptist
The Methodist Church
two arenas
Kefauver federal building
Hall of Fame
The Hilton garage
The arena garage
The focus of public transporation for all of Nashville, the central bus stop (all buses go here)
The entire riverfront including the Thermal Plant and Rolling Mill Hill
Baptist Sunday School Board
The Methodist thingy with the name that escapes me
About 2 dozen buildings with TIF offsets paying taxes as if there were no building there. (the MDHA keeps that money even after the debt is paid off. )

Am I forgetting anything? Probably would be easier to name all the parcels that are paying full ride taxes then to list the places paying nothing or substantially reduced amounts.

By: JeffF on 9/13/10 at 3:10

I should add that the state lists about 28 buildings they are responsible for in downtown.

By: localboy on 9/13/10 at 3:35

"Feel free to build there, make it multi-use. Just buy the land, provide your own money and build it--with your money, not the taxpayers."
Absolutely, Kosh. I'm a Sounds fan and have enjoyed attending games out at Greer since the early eighties...sure it's not plush, but then I don't pay big league prices, either. And that's where this is heading unless the gov't steps in and builds the stadium - which just means that the taxpayers on on the hook for not only the debt service but also annual subsidies to keep the prices low enough to attract attendence. I don't mind some kind of public/private partnership, but the Sounds owners have got to have more of a substantial piece of the pie than what I've seen in the media in the past.
Whatever the outcome, I do appreciate the Sounds and the product they've put on the field (although the current radio deal sucks and letting Chuck Valenches go was criminal).

By: JeffF on 9/13/10 at 3:37

"PGE Park is a state-of-the-art, multi-purpose facility located in the heart of downtown Portland, Ore. Fresh off a sparkling, $38.5-million renovation in 2000-2001, PGE Park is home to the Triple-A Baseball Portland Beavers and professional soccer’s Portland Timbers, a member of the United Soccer Leagues First Division. The stadium was originally built in 1926 and has undergone a number of transformations over the years. The recent renovation -- debuted to the public on April 30, 2001 when the Beavers entertained the Fresno Grizzlies in front of 18,616 fans -- immediately put PGE Park on the map as one of the finest stadiums in both the Pacific Coast League and the USL."

The baseball team was moved out of the stadium they got tax money to heavily renovate because the MLS team coveted it and did not want to share anymore. They are converting it to their specs, once again with Portland money.

The renovation by the way was a renovation in name only. The place was almost entirely razed and rebuilt. Its attendance still failed before the note was even 9 years old. This has been the case in every city with a wonderful new, "can't miss" downtown minor league stadium. No one can even remember the last time the Redbirds were able to pay rent or their debt note in Memphis.

By: gid on 9/14/10 at 6:19

Build it on the riverfront already, I have been waiting for years to take the boat to a baseball game.

By: producer2 on 9/14/10 at 6:49

I am sure Portland is thankful you are taking up their cause. You still failed to tell the truth as much as you want to deflect....

By: producer2 on 9/14/10 at 6:58

Here is the bottom line and Mr. Ward knows this. To build a multi-use baseball/amphitheater, one of those functions is going to suffer. Since baseball will have priority you would assume the one to suffer would be the amphitheater. Why? Because scheduling touring acts is like putting together a jigsaw puzzle. Acts tour by region and they don't travel great distances in between shows so when Act A says I can give you August 3 or 4 and you say, sorry I have baseball those nights then you lose Act A. The same scenario will be repeated numerous times because baseball has an 80 game home schedule between April and Sept. Then you would have to hold dates beyond September in case they make the playoffs and on and on. What happens on the 4th of July when both the baseball team and the City want to hold their events in the same facility? Imagine the possibilities if you had both. So why not build both entities and have 140 game/event nights in nashville instead of 90 or so?

By: TennTrue on 9/14/10 at 10:04

With the city trying to figure out what to do with the Fairgrounds, has anyone thought about putting the ballpark or the amphitheatre, or both, at that location? Putting both there would allow for shared parking as well as other shared benefits. Of course, ingres and egress would have to be improved.

By: TITAN1 on 9/14/10 at 12:45

As in the past Jeff doesn't know what he is talking about. A ballpark downtown on the river bank is is the logical choice. For those who think the fairgrounds or sulpher dell would be a good spot, it would be no different than where it is now. Downtown, people would spend money before and after the game.

By: govskeptic on 9/14/10 at 3:07

Here goes the Mayor's position by his shadow voice hidden
inside the keyboard of Producer2 again. Between government
owership, churches, and tax exempted utilites and non-profits
the property taxes will soon be totally paid by some 38 homeowners!

By: producer2 on 9/14/10 at 7:23

I am sure the Mayor can speak for himself. But I will admit that I do like many of his policies and thoughts on leading Nashville forward. I am not alone. I will take a bet with any of you that he gets re-elected in November of 2011. who;s in?

By: localboy on 9/15/10 at 9:20

With a new downtown park attendance would be at or near sellout for opening day, major holidays and possibly the playoffs. The rest of the time, actual on site attendance would be similar or less to the current situation, due in part to the location (depends how far down the riverbank it is placed from interstate), parking, ticket prices and concessions-current fans have gotten used to the prices in place. If it's downtown I would come to fewer games but probably spend more per visit so maybe it would even out. If it's a win-win situation someone will come forward to put up the lion's portion of the investment, with gov't at most being a minority partner. If private investors are not willing to commit money to the project, then this should tell us something about it's chances.

By: localboy on 9/17/10 at 12:08

Did you see where the Brewers re-upped their deal with the Sounds for 2 more years?

By: KaraBray33 on 12/20/11 at 2:52

Do you understand that it's the best time to get the business loans, which would make your dreams come true.