Mayor Karl Dean has reached agreements with the Nashville Sounds and state officials on a deal to build a new baseball stadium at Sulphur Dell in North Nashville.
The financing details, including how much taxpayers will be expected to contribute, are not being released by the Dean administration. City officials are expected to present the plan at a Sports Authority meeting on Monday.
If Metro Council, the state Building Commission and the Sports Authority sign off on the deal, it would clear the way for construction to begin, and the project to be completed in time for opening day of the Sounds’ 2015 season.
The state owns 13 acres, and the deal includes an landswap agreement with San Antonio-based development firm Embrey, which plans to build a multi-family apartment project on that site. Under the agreement, the state would give its property, currently state employee parking lots and vacant land, to Metro and the Sounds would lease the stadium from the city once it’s built.
“I’ve said all along that this proposal would need to make financial sense for the city and that the Sounds would need to have some skin in the game, and I’m proud this agreement meets those goals,” Dean said. “This investment north of downtown returns baseball to its historic home in Sulphur Dell and will spur further redevelopment of the Jefferson Street area.”
The proposed ballpark complex would be located on property that is currently undeveloped and sits between Jackson Street and Harrison Street, as well as Third Avenue North and Fifth Avenue North.
Sulphur Dell is the original home of professional baseball in Nashville, but for years it wasn’t the preferred location of a new ballpark. The previous Sounds ownership coveted a ballpark on the downtown riverfront, and the current ownership group MFP Baseball, led by Frank Ward, wanted a new stadium there too. A consultant said Sulphur Dell, where minor league and Negro league teams played for nearly 100 years, was one of three best sites for a new stadium.
The Dean administration submitted legislation to the Metro Council office before the noon deadline, but the bill won’t become public until its sponsors sign on. They have until Tuesday afternoon to do so.
The Tennessean broke the news of Dean’s administration renewed push for a North Nashville ballpark in August, when they began meeting with state officials about their plan. According to a document submitted to state officials, the Dean administration is planning an $80 million ballpark, parking facility and attached development. State workers would have access to the 1,000-space parking lot.
"The proposed ballpark's location in north Nashville would greatly enhance the Bicentennial Mall area and future plans for state projects there," Gov. Bill Haslam said. "This state, local and private partnership is good news for our capital city."
At a community meeting about the proposal, Dean’s administration said the ballpark would hold 10,000 people and have 8,500 fixed seats.
Sulphur Dell is the original home of professional baseball in Nashville, but the original ballpark was torn down in 1969. The Sounds, which are the Triple A affiliate of the Milwaukee Brewers, have argued they need a new ballpark because Greer Stadium is rundown and insufficient.
Assuming the legislation is signed and officially filed by the Tuesday deadline, the deal would be on track to be approved by Metro Council before 2014.