Details emerge about new Sounds ballpark, development - WKRN News 2

Details emerge about new Sounds ballpark, development

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The Sulphur Dell site is located on Jackson Street, east of the Bicentennial Mall between Fourth and Fifth avenues. The Sulphur Dell site is located on Jackson Street, east of the Bicentennial Mall between Fourth and Fifth avenues.

Metro leaders from the Sports Authority to the council Monday heard the details, cost and how to pay for what is now a $150 million dollar investment around a minor league ballpark announced on Friday by Mayor Karl Dean.

"We have negotiated leases and gone through a process where there's involved a lot of cooperation from the state, and two different developers, one being the Sounds, to get this project done," said the Mayor in his first interview since the announcement. 

Development of the new ballpark will include residential and retail space.

The Nashville Sounds will contribute $50 million and Embrey Development Corporation, a leading multi-family developer, will contribute $37 million. Metro's participation is $65 million, under the proposal.

Embrey has rights to parts of land at the Sulphur Dell site just north of downtown where the stadium would be built.

The Metro Council, Metro Sports Authority and the State Building Commission must all approve the project.

Actual construction costs of the 8,500-seat proposed stadium are expected to be $37 million.

The deal includes Metro getting state land for part of the ballpark site, and a commitment from Metro to fund construction of two parking facilities with 1,000 spaces costing $23 million.

Metro Finance Director Rich Riebeling presented details Monday morning to the Metro Sports Authority, the entity that would actually own the stadium if approved.

He said there is some urgency in getting the project approved by the end of this year because that is when the private developer Embrey wants to begin its project that's next door to the actual ballpark.

Riebeling said Metro's portion of the overall deal would be financed through bonds paid primarily by property taxes on the surrounding new development, a $700,000 yearly lease by the Sounds and sales tax on items sold in the new stadium.

The finance director estimates that funds coming out of the Metro budget to help pay for the bonds would be about $345,000 yearly.

Late Monday, the Metro Council heard the same presentation by Riebeling that was given earlier in the day to the Metro Sports Authority.

At-Large Councilman Jerry Maynard said the plan would benefit north Nashville, but also the entire city.

"It's a vote for a historic measure to invest money in north Nashville that has never been done in the history of this city," Councilman Maynard said.

Council members Robert Duvall and Duane Dominy went to look at the proposed site after Monday's meeting.

Duvall told News 2 he's not against development, but he's worried about the financing.

"On paper, you can make it look any way you want it to and paint a rosy picture," said Councilman Duvall. "And then when you start looking under the skirt you find out there's something else under the table."

The Metro Council first reading on the deal is scheduled for November 19.  It's expected that a special meeting of the council would be needed to finish a third reading by the end of the year.

Along with Embrey's development as part of the deal, the Sounds have committed to a development of their own near the ballpark.

"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," Mayor Dean said in announcing the agreement Friday.

Located on Jackson Street, east of the Bicentennial Mall between Fourth and Fifth avenues, the ballpark will link downtown with the Jefferson Street/Germantown area and offer sweeping views of the city.

Designers say a new greenway will offer easy pedestrian access and enhance the ballpark's park-like feel.

The new ballpark could open in time for the 2015 season.

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