Stadium construction moves forward as Jacobs proclaims Tennessee Smokies Day

By Ken Lay

Construction of Knoxville’s new downtown baseball stadium is proceeding on schedule.

The new home for the Tennessee Smokies is scheduled to open in April 2025, in time for the opening day of the 2025 Southern League baseball season.

Doug Kirchhhofer, Chief Executive Officer of Boyd Sports, which owns, the Smokies, the Class AA affiliate of the Chicago Cubs, updated the progress of the venue construction Thursday morning.

Construction is also underway on condos, which are adjacent to the venue at the east and west. Those are also set to open in April 2025.

“It’s really exciting. We can see the scope and the size of the building when you look at the steel that’s been erected,” Kirchhofer said. “We’ve made great progress and we are excited for what’s to come.”

Knoxville has a great minor league baseball tradition, which dates back to 1911, when Minor League Baseball first became affiliated with Major League Baseball.

“We’re excited to bring (professional) baseball back to Knoxville,” Kirchhofer said. “Knoxville has a great baseball tradition.

The Smokies, who currently play at Smokies Stadium in Kodak (in Sevier County), recently added to the Knoxville area’s storied baseball tradition when they won the 2023 Southern League Championship, the team’s first outright pennant since 1978, when the Knoxville Sox won the title.

Knox County Mayor Glenn Jacobs shared his thoughts on the new stadium, but he also honored the Smokies for their most recent title by proclaiming Nov. 2 Tennessee Smokies Day.

“It’s not only a stadium, it’s also the private development that’s coming up around it,” Jacobs said. “The potential transition that it all represents for this side of town is really important.

“This is a lot of work to put together as far as the financing and all those things, and now of course, a lot more work going into construction.”

Crews broke ground on the new stadium two years ago, and Jacobs said he thought opening in 2025 seemed a bit ambitious. But now, things are progressing on schedule.

“I was thinking to myself, two years, that’s a long time,” Jacobs said. “Then, you come out here and are like ‘oh my gosh, they’re going to do all this in two years.’

“Then you see all the progress that’s been made and I think it’s phenomenal.”

The multiple-use venue will seat 7,000 spectators and will host concerts and other sporting events, including soccer matches.

Then there’s the possibility that the University of Tennessee could host some baseball games there.

The Volunteers have enjoyed success in recent years under head coach Tony Vitello, and its home, Lindsey Nelson Stadium is undergoing renovation. Since Vitello arrived, UT has made two trips to the College World Series and won two SEC East Titles, a regular-season conference championship and an SEC Tournament crown.

Kirchhofer said he looks forward to Tennessee playing games at the new stadium.

“We’d very much love to see that,” he said. “They’ve played at the existing Smokies Stadium, and that would be something we would look forward to, working out and hosting games here at the new stadium.”