Knoxville Mayor Indya Kincannon and Knox County Mayor Glenn Jacobs are jointly recommending seven individuals to serve on a new Sports Authority, which will be 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.
The recommendations will be voted on by City Council on April 20 and by County Commission on April 26.
The recommended Sports Authority members are:
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, 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 directs
Creating a Sports Authority is a non-binding next 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 or festivals.
Both Mayor Jacobs and Mayor Kincannon support the concept of the proposal, which includes Smokies owner Randy Boyd agreeing to a market-value 30-year lease that would allow the Smokies to play in the new stadium.
As part of a larger redevelopment effort around the stadium, GEM Community Development Group, the private development partner to Boyd Sports, has pledged to undertake a major private development including apartments, condos, restaurants and offices.
“We’re exploring our options for what we feel will be a great entertainment park for the area,” Jacobs said. “It will be so much more than just baseball – and the Sports Authority is the first step toward making this a reality.
“This will not only help revitalize a blighted downtown area, but it will be a tourist attraction that brings in dollars from visitors from surrounding counties. I want to stress, though, that we are not giving anyone a stadium. The Tennessee Smokies will be the renting tenant and property manager, but the City and County would retain ownership of the facility.”
Kincannon called setting up a Sports Authority “the logical next step in the planning process.”
“In making this investment, the public benefit has to be greater than the public cost,” she said. “Our initial research shows that to be the case, and this highly experienced Sports Authority will be digging deeper and doing an independent analysis.
“This private-public partnership 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.”
At this point, there is no funding designated to the Sports Authority, so at least initially, it will have no office space and no staff; City and County staff will be supporting the Sports Authority as it launches. Deputy to the Mayor Stephanie Welch and Knox County Finance Director Chris Caldwell are heading up City and County efforts, respectively.