KNOXVILLE, Tennessee — Seven people, several with extensive community and sports experience, have been vetted and nominated to serve on the inaugural Knoxville-Knox County sports authority that would oversee financing and construction of a proposed downtown sports stadium.
The seven are Joan Cronan, Alvin Nance, Richard Bass, Rosalyn Tillman, Jeff Hagood, Tim Hill, and Nikitia Thompson.
They must be approved by the Knoxville City Council and Knox County Commission. The governing bodies are expected to review the nominees in the coming weeks.
The sports authority was created late last year to oversee the construction of a multi-use, publicly owned stadium east of the Old City below the James White Parkway. Crews are clearing the site right now to make way for the structure.
Businessman and development Randy Boyd has proposed moving his Double A baseball team the Tennessee Smokies from Sevier County back to Knoxville to play ball.
He's also leading an investment group that would build some $140 million in additional development including commercial and residential around the stadium.
Stadium construction is estimated to be about $65 million. Gov. Bill Lee's office released an amended proposed budget this week for 2021/22 that shows he's including $13.5 million to go toward stadium funding.
It'll be up to the sports authority to steer the project to completion.
They bring diverse experience to the table.
Cronan has decades of sports experience through her ties to the University of Tennessee. She was women's athletics director for nearly 30 years at UT, including during some of Lady Vols teams' finest hours.
She's chaired the area United Way of Greater Knoxville and Leadership Knoxville, among other civic involvements.
Nance is a past CEO of Knoxville's Community Development Corp. and a longtime banker. He's CEO of LHP Development.
Tillman is the longtime dean of the Magnolia Avenue campus of Pellissippi State Community College.
Hagood is a Knoxville attorney, diehard UT supporter, and president of the Knoxville Quarterback Club.
Hill is a Knoxville developer and principal with Hatcher-Hill Properties LLC, which has several ongoing or recently completed projects. He's on the Knoxville-Knox County Planning Commission.
Thompson owns Nikitia Thompson Realty and was the first Black woman to serve as a Knoxville Utilities Board member.
Bass has past experience in banking and with a sports authority in Maryland that built Camden Yards, among other things, and now lives in the Knoxville area. He's a UT graduate.
Boyd hopes his baseball team will be able to play in Knoxville in spring 2023. It's an ambitious goal because much must still be done to ensure the stadium becomes a reality.
Financing must be arranged, development and building plans must be submitted and approved and a project manager must be found to oversee the work.
Additional infrastructure work is a certainty.
There's been some community opposition from critics who question the value of a stadium over other possible works, especially those that could help lower-income groups.
Boyd has said he'd like construction of the stadium and his proposed private development to occur simultaneously.
Funding for the stadium would come from a variety of sources including team rent, Lee's contribution announced this week and sales tax revenue from what's sold in the building once it opens.
Proponents envision more than 300 days of use at the stadium.