Randy and Jenny Boyd enjoy the Smokies Stadium after announcing the ownership transfer.
(WBIR-Kodak) A Knoxville businessman is the new owner of the Tennessee Smokies.
The organization announced Friday that Randy Boyd, founder and CEO of Knoxville-based Radio Systems Corporation, has reached an agreement to purchase the Smokies from the current ownership group, which includes principal owners Gov. Bill Haslam and Pilot Flying J CEO Jimmy Haslam. The Haslams will retain a security interest in the team.
"We are excited to have Randy lead this outstanding team," said Jimmy Haslam. "My partners and I have been honored to own the Smokies for the past ten years, and didn't want to let the opportunity to sell to a local owner pass by. Randy is a great community leader, a quality person and a first-class businessman. I know he will be an excellent owner."
Boyd said during a press conference on Friday that he's wanted to own a baseball team for awhile.
"About six years ago I had lunch with Jim Haslam and let him know that I would like to buy the team and he explained what a great business it was and that he would never sell it. So I really didn't think this would ever happen," Boyd said.
The deal had been under discussion since January and an agreement was reached in March. It had to be approved by the Southern League and Minor League Baseball.
Tennessee Smokies President, Doug Kirchhofer, added, "Strong local ownership has been a key factor in our success and Randy Boyd will certainly continue that commitment to the organization and our community."
The team switched to local ownership in 2002.
Tennessee Smokies General Manager Brian Cox said Boyd's local ties will help him.
"When you're owned by a major league team, then go to a private owner, sometimes the focuses are a little different. And it's a good thing for the community because they get a chance to get more of the flair of what's here in our community," Cox said.
Boyd included, "The Smokies have been part of our community since 1911, and my goal is to make sure they stay a part of our community for another 100 years. My wife Jenny and I plan to keep the team in our family for generations."
In a press release, Boyd said he considered the purchase a community investment rather than a financial one. He says he is committed to reinvesting in the organization and wants the fans to have a great experience from the moment they arrive at the park.
The Tennessee Smokies moved from Knoxville to Kodak in 2000. The move has been a financial home run for Sevier County.
"We've got a contract here for the next 12 years and I'm incredibly thankful for Sevier County and Sevierville for keeping baseball in this area. So my plan is to, for the next 12 years, just continue to invest here and keep making the experience better for our fans," Boyd said.
Along with the Haslams, the previous ownership group included Gary Wade, Chief Justice of the Tennessee Supreme Court; Dr. Dwight Wade, retired physician and founder of Summit Medical Group; Teddy Phillips, principal with Phillips & Jordan, Inc.; Sid Blalock the owner of Blalock Companies; and Jim Blalock, owner of the Blalock Companies.