Baseball Stadium Block Party, Jackson Avenue, Knoxville, July 2021
While the original target had been for baseball to begin in downtown Knoxville spring 2024, reality has forced a delay to the spring and summer season of 2025. To anyone reading current events, the reasons won’t be a surprise: “. . global supply chain issues and a volatile construction market.”
The new target date is for the beginning of baseball, not necessarily for the completion of the stadium or surrounding development. Should the stadium be completed earlier, events such as concerts may proceed as early as 2024.
In a release, Knox County Mayor Glenn Jacobs said, “With all the problems everyone is currently experiencing with supply chain and labor issues, this news is disappointing but not unexpected. I think the responsible thing to do is pause and come up with a good plan that addresses these new challenges.” Knoxville Mayor Indya Kincannon concurred, “It’s imperative that this project be done right. If that means opening the stadium a little later, it’s worth a small wait to ensure we end up with what we need and want.”
Randy Boyd, the founder of Boyd Sports, which operates the Smokies, was quoted in the same release as saying, “We remain 100 percent committed to completing the stadium and moving the Smokies to Knoxville, and we appreciate the continued support of the city and county as we develop the new schedule together and continue the momentum on the project.”
Work is still scheduled to begin this spring, but don’t expect to see the evolution of left (or right) field any time soon. The first stage involves the not-so-glamorous, but very important, water and sewer work. Taken all together, this is one of the largest development projects in the history of the city and, given that it is coming during (or on the heels of — depending on your perspective) a global pandemic that has disrupted life in nearly every conceivable way, it’s no surprise there would be delays.
For fans of baseball and the project, here’s hoping it’s the last of the major delays.