Sounds agree on new ballpark deal

Project would return baseball to Nashville's Sulphur Dell area

An illustration of the proposed Triple-A ballpark, north of downtown Nashville.

By Danny Wild / | November 8, 2013 12:41 PM ET

The Nashville Sounds have reached agreements with the state of Tennessee and a real estate developer that call for the construction of a new ballpark for the Triple-A club that could open in time for the 2015 season, Mayor Karl Dean announced Friday.

Plans for the stadium, slated to be built in the Sulphur Dell area, will be presented for approval by the Metro Council, Sports Authority and state Building Commission on Monday, according to The Tennessean.

If approved, construction could be begin soon on a project that would bring baseball back to the Sulphur Dell, an area north of downtown Nashville that hosted both Minor League and Negro League teams until 1969.

"The proposed ballpark's location in north Nashville would greatly enhance the Bicentennial Mall area and future plans for state projects there," Tennessee Gov. Bill Haslam said. "This state, local and private partnership is good news for our capital city."

Financial details were not disclosed, although preliminary plans for a new ballpark unveiled in August called for an $80 million price tag, with half of that total going directly to ballpark construction -- the complex also would include a 1,000-space parking lot. According to the newspaper, the stadium would have a capacity of 10,000, with about 8,500 fixed seats. More details are expected to be announced on Monday.

The deal also calls for the state to swap 13 acres of land with Embrey Development Corp., a developer of multi-family housing that plans to build an apartment complex. The Sounds would lease the ballpark from the city once construction is completed.

"I've said all along that this proposal would need to make financial sense for the city and that the Sounds would need to have some skin in the game. And I'm proud this agreement meets those goals," Dean said. "This investment north of downtown returns baseball to its historic home in Sulphur Dell and will spur further redevelopment of the Jefferson Street area."

The Sounds, the Triple-A affiliate of the Milwaukee Brewers, have played in 10,300-seat Herschel Greer Stadium since 1978. The team has campaigned to replace the aging facility, although the stadium is a favorite of some fans and media -- the venue, with its iconic guitar-shaped scoreboard, was ranked among the best places to see a Minor League game in 2013 by The Huffington Post and Men's Journal.

Frank Ward and the Sounds ownership group, MFP Baseball, originally hoped to build a downtown riverfront stadium, but a consultant pointed to Sulphur Dell as one of the best options for a new facility. The complex, according to the newspaper, would be in an undeveloped section between Jackson and Harrison streets.

"We love being a part of the Nashville community and thank Mayor Dean and Gov. Haslam for providing leadership on this exciting ballpark proposal," Ward said in a statement released by the mayor's office. "Greer Stadium has far outlived its useful life and we can't wait to give Nashvillians a top-notch experience at Sulphur Dell. Our investments, plus those of all our partners, will truly transform this area of North Nashville, and we are thankful for this opportunity."

Danny Wild is an editor for Follow his MLBlog, Minoring in Twitter. This story was not subject to the approval of the National Association of Professional Baseball Leagues or its clubs.

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