First Tennessee Field
|Location||1st Avenue South & Korean Veterans Blvd.
|Owner||Metropolitan Government of Nashville and Davidson County|
|Field size||Left Field: 318 feet (97 m)*
Center Field: 415 feet (126 m)*
Right Field: 330 feet (100 m)*
|Construction cost||$43 million*
($49.7 million in 2017 dollars)
Looney Ricks Kiss
|Nashville Sounds (PCL)
First Tennessee Field was a proposed minor league baseball stadium in Nashville, Tennessee. The new ballpark was to be built 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. In 2007, the project and plans for the ballpark were canceled.
Planning and financing
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 in maintenance costs on Greer Stadium, a cost that would have been eliminated if Greer was 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 Nashville 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 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 for First Tennessee Park. Construction on that project began in 2014, and the ballpark opened in 2015.
The former thermal plant site remained 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 as a companion to the existing Riverfront Park. Among its features is Ascend Amphitheater, an open air event venue which opened in 2015.
- Vrooman, John (February 2, 2002), "$80 Million New Sounds Stadium Project at Sulphur Dell in the Works", Country Hard Ball in Music City: Economics of the Nashville Sounds Ball Park Deal, Vanderbilt University
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- "Mayor Unveils Final Design for West Riverfront Park". Nashville.gov. Metropolitan Government of Nashville and Davidson County, Tennessee. May 19, 2014. Retrieved February 8, 2015.