First Tennessee Field
|Location||1st Avenue & Korean Veterans Blvd.
|Owner||Metropolitan Government of Nashville and Davidson County|
|Field size||Left Field: 318 ft (97 m)*
Center Field: 415 ft (126 m)*
Right Field: 330 ft (101 m)*
|Construction cost||$43 million*|
Looney Ricks Kiss
|Nashville Sounds (PCL)*
First Tennessee Field was the name of a proposed minor league baseball stadium in Nashville, Tennessee. The new ballpark was to sit on the banks of the Cumberland River in downtown Nashville, on the former site of the Nashville Thermal Transfer Plant. It would have been home to the Nashville Sounds, a Triple-A baseball team of the Pacific Coast League, replacing Herschel Greer Stadium.
The Memphis-based financial services company First Tennessee agreed to a $4.125 million deal for naming rights to the proposed stadium. The ballpark would have been the central part of a $200 million retail, entertainment, and residential complex, which was expected to continue the revitalization of Nashville's "SoBro" (South of Broadway) district. The project was canceled and plans for the ballpark were scrapped.
Financing and planning
A consortium of twelve banks was to fund $23 million of the cost of construction of the stadium. Another $17 million would come from tax-increment financing. The remaining portion of construction costs would have been assumed by Struever Bros. Eccles & Rouse, the primary developer, which was to purchase some of the land for residential development. Together, the financing assured that no public money would be used. First Tennessee Field itself was estimated to cost $43 million.
Initially, Nashville's mayor, Bill Purcell, refused to approve the deal unless taxpayers were at no risk, following the construction of LP Field and Bridgestone Arena in the mid-1990s. Both of those ventures, initiated by former mayor Phil Bredesen (who later held the office of Governor of Tennessee), proved to be very costly to Nashville taxpayers. First Tennessee Field was to cost the Metro government $500,000 per year in maintenance costs. At the time, Metro spent $250,000 per year on Greer Stadium, a cost that would be eliminated if Greer is ever demolished or sold. Purcell ultimately adopted the project, thanks to the involvement of the banks. First Tennessee Field was officially approved by the Metro Council on February 7, 2006. As part of the agreement, the facility would be managed by the Sounds, but owned by the Metro government.
Cancellation of project
The stadium was scheduled to open in April 2009, two years later than the original target date due to the numerous delays in government approval of the project. The Sounds and private developer Struever Bros. Eccles & Rouse were unable to finalize financing and design plans for the new stadium by the April 15, 2007 deadline set by the Nashville Metro Council. Shortly thereafter, construction of First Tennessee Field was officially canceled.
Fate of site
The land sat vacant until 2014, used occasionally as a venue for outdoor concerts and as a gathering place for Nashville's annual 4th of July celebration, until Metro Nashville designated it as an official park and began construction of permanent park facilities. The new park is named West Riverfront Park, and is designed to serve as a companion to the existing Riverfront Park. Among its features will be an amphitheatre.
Prior to the construction of the city park, the site was slated as one of three candidate sites for the next attempt at a Nashville Sounds stadium, although the Sulphur Dell site north of downtown was chosen as the location of First Tennessee Park. Construction on that project also began in 2014, and is slated for an April 2015 opening date.
- Vrooman, John. "Country Hard Ball in Music City: Economics of the Nashville Sounds Ball Park Deal" Vanderbilt University. 2 February 2007.
- "First Tennessee to put name on proposed Sounds stadium." Nashville Business Journal. 21 November 2003. Retrieved on 22 December 2008.
- Tarica, Andrew. "Sounds get new park on the river." Minor League Baseball. 8 February 2006. Retrieved on 29 October 2008.
- Flaum, David. "Memphis-Based Bank Buys Naming Rights for Nashville Baseball Stadium." The Commercial Appeal. 10 December 2003. AccessMyLibrary. Retrieved on 22 December 2008.
- Carter, Cindy. "Deadline For Sounds Stadium Proposal Passes." WSMV.com. 16 April 2007. Retrieved on 29 October 2008.
- Carter, Cindy. "Downtown Nashville Property Up For Bids Again." WSMV.com. 22 May 2007. Retrieved on 29 July 2007.