As Nashville renews the discussion about where to build a new baseball stadium, it is time to clearly state the Nashville Sounds’ position.
It is our understanding that the City of Nashville is in talks with another group that is interested in building an amphitheater on the downtown thermal transfer site. The Nashville Sounds leadership has carefully analyzed all the locations that have been previously mentioned, and we believe that the downtown thermal transfer site along the Cumberland River is the most feasible location.
Therefore, we propose a multi-use facility — a ballpark that would also serve as an amphitheater for outdoor concerts while incorporating the greenway to provide a park-like setting. This facility would create a family-friendly environment for Middle Tennesseans to enjoy baseball, outdoor musical events and a beautiful “green” venue on the Cumberland.
This type of multi-use facility on the thermal site in Nashville would optimize the use of the city’s already considerable investment on the riverfront by capitalizing on the LP Field surface parking, the proposed Music City Center structured parking, and the Shelby Street Bridge renovation.
We estimate a new baseball park on the thermal site would bring 400,000 to 500,000 fans to see the Nashville Sounds annually. Downtown workers and visitors could walk within minutes to a riverfront ballpark/amphitheater on the thermal site, and there would be easy interstate access, too.
Building a multi-use facility would be less expensive than building two separate facilities on two different sites. We don’t know yet what a proposed amphitheater alone might cost to build. Atlanta has a new amphitheater that reportedly cost $35 million. Maybe Nashville could do it for less.
Regardless, we are sure that a multi-use facility would dramatically reduce that cost and leave Nashville with additional money to spend on other projects. In addition, the total annual operating expenses would be much less for one site.
Isn’t it time that the baseball proponents and the amphitheater proponents try to work together for the good of Nashville? Would a multi-use facility be perfect for either group? Perhaps not. But by compromising, it might be perfect for Nashville. The thermal site is simply the most feasible, economical, accessible and “greenest” site available.
Frank Ward is co-owner of the Nashville Sounds.