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New renderings released of downtown baseball stadium, final design still in progress

Developers said they expect the stadium to open to the Smokies in 2025.

KNOXVILLE, Tenn. — New renderings of the downtown baseball stadium project were released after developers said that the expected opening day of the stadium was pushed back to 2025. The final design for the stadium is still in progress, according to a public relations website for the stadium project.

The renderings include a Tennessee-shaped scoreboard that could be seen while looking toward Old City. They also include spaces built into a hill for retail space, and the stadium is surrounded by what appear to be private, residential apartment complexes.

Crews with the Knoxville Utilities Board are already moving water and sewer lines to prepare for the stadium. Streets around the project site have been closed while crews work, and the website said site preparation and rough grading will start in early August.

It will allow heavy machinery onto the site. Additional utility work to increase the water and sewage capacity, as well as replace some lines and build additional lines for electrical and gas systems, is expected to start in October.

The website said that the final cost of the project, as well as "accompanying particulars," should be finalized in the fall. After that process is done, the contract will go out for contractors to bid on it. They said construction on the baseball stadium could start in January 2023.

Negotiators are bracing for a gap in funding for the stadium, because of higher costs of materials and rising interest rates for loans. In 2019, developers estimated the stadium would cost $75 million. In 2021, they said inflation drove that cost up to $90.5 million. Around $74.3 million of that cost would be funded by the public.

In the November proposal, negotiators said the maximum exposure of public funds is $74.3 million. Smokies Owner Randy Boyd previously said once the agreement is signed, he would cover any construction cost overruns. 

On July 21, city and county leaders released a statement about a meeting they had to discuss the cost of the stadium. That statement is below:

"Discussions between the City, County and Boyd Sports on how to finalize the multi-use stadium design and manage costs are continuing, including a meeting yesterday involving Mayors Jacobs and Kincannon, Randy Boyd and others.

"Significant progress is being made. The details are not yet finalized, so we are unable to discuss any of the specifics at this point. However, the City, County and Mr. Boyd are excited and confident that the stadium project is continuing to move forward. Play ball in 2025!"

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