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Nashville Ballpark: Latest -- Sounds Sold; Focus for now is on Greer Stadium improvements

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Lots of real estate and financial discussions tucked in the many articles available -- we'll try to link to the Brewer-related quotes and news:


From the Tennessean:


Not only should the new stadium keep baseball in Nashville, it probably will keep the Brewers tied in to Nashville, as well.


"That was a big part of us signing our (player development contract) with the Sounds, so I'm excited for Glenn, for the team and for the city of Nashville," said Scott Martens, Milwaukee's business manager of minor-league operations and player development. "We hope to set up a long-term relationship for years to come.


"We had the opportunity to move into a new (Class A) facility in Charleston, W.Va., this past season. To be able to go into a new park, a new clubhouse, a new field, is exciting. And to be able to do it at the Triple-A level is even more exciting. The Sounds drew over 400,000 fans this past year, which is a credit to the city of Nashville ? and to be able to do it in Greer Stadium is even more so."


Last season ? the first in a two-year agreement between the Sounds and the Brewers ? resulted in Nashville's first league championship (the Pacific Coast League) since the 1982 team won the Southern League title.


The new ballpark, which will have approximately 8,500 fixed seats with flexible seating expected to push the capacity over 12,000, is expected to be ready for the beginning of the 2007 season.


"There's plenty of work to be done, but the Sounds are prepared to do that in order to facilitate a 2007 opening," Yaeger said. "Opening day has a lot of appeal. We'll be pushing to open the ballpark on opening day."

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In mid-may, after school was done for the year, i took a trip down to nashville for the four game set vs the 51's, i ended up talking to a couple guys in the stands during the series, and they all were talking about how the city was talking about building a new stadium, down next to their river, with prime real-estate(which used to be a land-fill, if i remember correctly) and seemed to be very very excited about it. The current stadium is in a decent, but yet kind of shady part of the city, and, from the proposals the people were telling me about, this new stadium should attract many more fans than what they were/are drawing now
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This is very good news. After see a couple of games there this year I was not impressed with their stadium at all. The scoreboard looked like it was about to fall down and the stands were not in the best of shape either. Before the game I overhead a couple of the opposing players complaining about the infield. It also appears to be in a not great section of town though buses were running to the stadium.
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We'll be hearing about this debate until ground actually breaks:


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Many good questions raised over Sounds deal



The Nashville Sounds deal was formally filed yesterday and is now in the hands of the Metro Council.


Two taxpayers raise questions that probably will frame the coming debate. Stan Scott of Bellevue and Bob Malone of Madison responded to a column I wrote a couple of weeks ago on the pro-Sounds buzz around town. They want to know:


? Is this the best use for this valuable piece of riverfront property?


? Should the city lease land to a private business?


? Should the city allow the deal to hinge on special financing, where future property taxes pay off their bank loan?


? Should taxpayers guarantee the Sounds $500,000 in annual maintenance costs?


? Should the city make a deal with a private for-profit organization, which not too long ago had trouble paying its rent?


? Should this deal go forward without an overall riverfront plan?


Malone wrote: "I have no problem with the Sounds having a new stadium. I just think they, like any other business, should use their money to start the business, not public money. Wasn't it just last year they couldn't pay the rent on Greer Stadium?"


He adds: "How can you possibly justify this boondoggle in light of forcing the closing of schools and firing school employees?"


Scott questions whether it is legal to use taxpayer money to maintain a private facility. And he offers this opinion: "As usual, we have hodgepodge development with no foresight for what is best for downtown Nashville."


Peter Heidenreich, a lobbyist with Hall Strategies who will be working to persuade the council to pass the Sounds deal, said those questions will be addressed. "We've been waiting until the legislation was formally filed," he said. "We're going to begin to approach the council folks on an individual basis to discover what their questions are and what their issues are. We think we have answers."


The council's budget and finance committee also will meet with the Sounds and Struever Bros. Eccles & Rouse, the developer of the adjoining apartments and shops.


The Nashville Downtown Partnership has embraced the Sounds deal, with merchants rallying behind it. They see it as a way to bring people downtown for 70 or more games. They plan on lobbying council members, too.


At least one councilman is going to be hard to convince. Councilman David Briley said the two citizens raise good questions. He has one more. "The bigger question for me: Is this a good investment for the city?" Briley said. "What else could we invest the real estate and the tax increment financing and the cash flow in? And does this make the most sense of all the possibilities?


"At this point, I'm not convinced that it does. I think there are a lot of things that make more sense than investing in the Sounds. The rest of it, the mixed-use development, that seems to make a whole lot of sense. I'm not in any way opposed to that. The Sounds? They've got a lot of explaining to do for me to be convinced that's a good thing for the city to do. Their business model certainly hasn't been very successful. It makes me real nervous."


The questions raised by Briley and the two residents are good ones. This Metro Council ? often criticized and made fun of ? has a golden opportunity to get answers. Now is their opportunity to carefully and responsibly debate the future of one of Nashville's prime pieces of property.


It's in their hands now. Game on.

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Final vote is February 7th, the toughest hurdle was cleared Tuesday by 21-12 vote:


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Sounds ballpark passes Metro hurdle

By Bill Harless, bharless@nashvillecitypaper.com


The Nashville Sounds? proposal to build a $43 million minor league baseball stadium on the banks of the Cumberland River downtown is now a step closer to reality.


The plan passed Tuesday evening in the Metro Council 21-12 on the second of three required votes for approval, though not without contention.


Council members voting against the proposal said the Sounds and Mayor Bill Purcell?s administration snubbed the Council by not including the body in the negotiations resulting in the final Sounds-Metro deal that is up for the vote.


They were equally frustrated that they couldn?t amend the agreement Tuesday night without having to send it back to the ballpark?s developers, Struever Bros. Eccles & Rouse, the banking coalition funding half the stadium, and back to Metro for re-approval ? essentially starting the process over again.


?If we vote yes, we can ask, we can beg, we can plead [for changes], but [that?s] not going to change it,? said Councilman Randy Foster, who voted against the proposal.


Both Councilman Charlie Tygard and Councilman Sam Coleman proposed amendments to the deal. Tygard?s would have had the developer of the residential and retail buildings around the stadium pay for the greenway connecting Riverfront Park to Rolling Mill Hill and also would allow Metro to reap concession profits when Metro-sponsored nonprofits use the stadium. He said Sounds General Manager Glenn Yaeger indicated there may be a way to make such changes, but he voted against the proposal Tuesday, saying changes needed to be made before any passage.


Ballpark proponents, whose number includes most business groups in town, have said the project is stellar in that it places no financial liability on Metro other than an annual $500,000 maintenance fee to be paid for the duration of the 30-year lease and that, at almost no cost, Metro will own a new ballpark.


Speaking to a Council committee before the meeting Tuesday night, Metro Finance Director David Manning ? refuting outspoken opponent Councilman-at-Large David Briley on the financial merits of the deal ? said if the Sounds stay at their current home stadium, Metro will soon have to pay at least $3-$5 million to make necessary Americans with Disability Act improvements to the facility.


Proponents, including the Nashville Area Chamber of Commerce, have said the ballpark and mixed-use development will draw new visitors downtown, aiding Metro?s aim of revitalizing and repopulating downtown and the Cumberland riverfront.


Opponents in the Council have been bothered by various financial aspects of the deal. Their concerns include that Metro wouldn?t make the profit it could by selling all the property, that Metro would have to share 50 percent of the revenues it makes whenever the city holds an event at the stadium, and that the Sounds could sell the team (though they would still have to ensure a AAA team plays there).


Opponents have also questioned whether the Sounds will be able to make the profits needed to repay the stadium loans and say the land might be put to better use.


Under the plan, the Sounds would build the stadium at a cost of $43 million, of which $23 million would be provided in loans from a coalition of 12 banks, $17 million through a tax increment financing loan ? which the Sounds would pay off in the form of future property tax payments that Metro would forgo ? and Metro would donate roughly $3 million that it would make from selling a section of the 12-acre tract to Baltimore developer Struever Bros.


As part of the project, Struever, which has overseen the redevelopment of Fenway Park in Boston as well as much of Baltimore?s waterfront, would build a mixed-use retail and residential development around the stadium and along First Avenue.


Struever ? which is also co-developing a mixed-use office-residential-retail project a little to the south on nearby Rolling Mill Hill ? has said if the stadium project is approved, it would like to create a building connecting the Shelby Street Pedestrian Bridge straight into the ballpark.


Meanwhile, this Friday, the board of the Metro Sports Authority may vote on a proposal that would designate roughly 2,000 parking spaces at the Coliseum across the river from the proposed park for Sounds visitors to use on game days for $2 if no Coliseum event would need the spaces.



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New Sounds ballpark approved by Council

By Bill Harless, bharless@nashvillecitypaper.com


The Nashville Sounds, winning seven converts in the Metro Council to the cause of a downtown baseball stadium, had their wish for a $43-million riverfront ballpark granted Tuesday when council voted 28-9 to approve the stadium deal it has been debating since October.


Meanwhile, Struever Bros., Eccles & Rouse ? the Baltimore developer that will build residential and retail buildings surrounding the stadium ? has indicated it plans to help develop $100-$150 million of residential, retail and office buildings along nearby Gateway Boulevard in addition to its work on the stadium project in order to ?expand? the ballpark neighborhood.


On Tuesday, Bellevue-area Councilman Charlie Tygard, who had voted against the stadium in the first two of the three votes Council had to take on the stadium, numbered among the converts.


During the Council?s debate, Tygard said ?I want my constituents to know ? that there may be a better deal out there, there may be a higher use of this land, but it has not been brought forward to us. ? I am comfortable that with the changes the Sounds have made verbally ? that this is a much sounder deal for the taxpayers? than it was when Mayor Bill Purcell first presented the deal. Antioch Councilman Sam Coleman also switched his ?no? vote to a ?yes,? saying though he still had reservations, a majority of his constituents favored it.


Tygard said the Sounds won him over, in part, by offering to bump the 15 guaranteed days Metro has under the deal to use the stadium each year to 30 and by promising to allow nonprofits to sell concessions when hosting stadium events.


Black Caucus gives its support


Only one member of the Council?s Black Caucus voted against the ballpark ? Councilwoman-at-Large Carolyn Baldwin Tucker ? saying there is no guarantee the Sounds and Struever will keep their promises. And though caucus member Ronnie Greer abstained from voting and despite heated pressure from the NAACP and local black business groups Monday to incorporate new provisions directly into the agreement, every other black council member voted for the stadium.


Apparently, a letter sent by the Sounds and Struever to caucus members, stating no minority-owned business [black, Hispanic, or woman-owned, for example] will receive more than 50 percent of the 20 percent of project dollars the companies plan to spend with minority-owned businesses, alleviated caucus concerns.


A conference call earlier in the day between Councilman Ludye Wallace and some members of Nashville?s black business community also, apparently, helped secure some votes, though participants were mum on what was discussed.


?An Xbox for the community?


Wallace, who voted for the project, attempted to defer voting for two more weeks but was blocked. Councilman-at-Large David Briley, who has consistently opposed the stadium, maintained his stance, saying, ?We?re making a decision here to buy an Xbox [videogame machine] for the community.?


Councilwoman Ginger Hausser voted for the project but said she will pressure the Metro Sports Authority to provide parking at the Titans Coliseum for Sounds games at a cost of up to $5, rather than at the $2 previously discussed, to offset the $500,000 annual stadium maintenance fee to which Metro is now committed.


Design work begins today


Several Council members praised Purcell for crafting a deal carrying no Metro debt. Meanwhile, Sounds General Manager Glenn Yaeger said the stadium?s design team will meet first thing today. Priscilla Carroll, senior development director for Struever, said the company is strongly leaning toward building a ?high-end, limited-service? hotel on the property, along with the residential and retail buildings it will construct, and of attaching the hotel to the Shelby Street Pedestrian Bridge. This connection would link pedestrians on the bridge directly to the rest of the development. Also, Struever likes the idea of a restaurant overlooking the Cumberland.


Michael Hayes, Struever?s development director in Nashville, said his family now plans to develop the properties it owns on Gateway Boulevard from First to Fourth avenues at a cost of roughly $100-$150 million in partnership with Struever. When the deal was announced, Yaeger said the stadium would hopefully open in April.

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I'm going to Nashville this weekend. I'll see how the man on the street is reacting to the news. http://forum.brewerfan.net/images/smilies/smile.gif
"Dustin Pedroia doesn't have the strength or bat speed to hit major-league pitching consistently, and he has no power......He probably has a future as a backup infielder if he can stop rolling over to third base and shortstop." Keith Law, 2006
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Sounds set 2008 opening for downtown baseball

By Bill Harless, bharless@nashvillecitypaper.com


The Nashville Sounds announced Wednesday the $43 million ballpark the team will soon start building downtown along the Cumberland River will be completed in 2008 rather than in 2007, as originally anticipated.


The announcement is not a surprise, however, given that talk around town has been that the project will take more than a year and a half to finish and that not even a topographical survey of the ballpark land, currently under way, has been finished.


Groundbreaking is slated for early 2007, with the team confident it can open the 2008 season in the 12,500-seat facility, Sounds General Manager Glenn Yaeger said.


Meanwhile, the Sounds have selected two local construction management firms for the project: Turner Universal Construction, a subsidiary of Dallas-based Turner Construction, and the Don Hardin Group, a minority-owned firm.


A factor in the delay involves the Sounds decision to have the Nashville Civic Design Center ? the nonprofit entity that wrote The Plan of Nashville ? hold a series of public meetings on the design of both the ballpark and the retail-residential development that will surround it, Yaeger said Wednesday.


?In order to get on a fast-track construction timeline, we would have to be nearing completion of the design phase ? and that would eliminate any public participation,? Yaeger said.


Further, a bolstered effort by the Sounds to increase participation by minority-owned businesses in the project and ?the inability to begin the design process until we had Council approval? have contributed to the delay of the start date, Yaeger said.


The new timeframe puts the construction schedule in line with those of similar ballparks.


For example, the 14,320-seat AutoZone Park in Memphis, which opened in 2000, took 15 months to build; the 13,131-seat Slugger Field in Louisville, Ky., which opened in 2000, required 16 months; and the 12,215-seat Isotopes Park in Albuquerque, N.M., which opened in 2003, took approximately 16 months.


Meanwhile, no decision has been made as to where, exactly, the stadium will sit on the ballpark property, located just south of the Shelby Street Pedestrian Bridge, according to Michael Hayes, who is coordinating the development of the retail-residential ?neighborhood? that will surround the ballpark and stretch into surrounding streets.


This will have to wait, Hayes said, until a boundary survey (to determine exactly how big the parcel is) and a topographical survey of the property have been completed. Hayes is development director for Baltimore builder Struever Bros., Eccles & Rouse, which is developing the mixed-use project.


Corey Napier, senior vice president at First Tennessee, the bank that is leading a coalition of 12 lending institutions loaning $23 million to the Sounds for ballpark construction, said the stadium delay won?t affect the project?s funding.


?The ballpark financing is not slated to close until after this year, and so, until that point, the Sounds will continue operating just as they have, and the financing won?t take place until closer to the groundbreaking,? Napier said.


The contracts between the Sounds and the Don Hardin Group (which has provided services for Vanderbilt University) and with Turner Universal (which provided construction management services for the Gaylord Entertainment Center and was construction manager for the Nashville Super Speedway) still must be finalized and will require Metro approval.

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Delay on Sounds stadium disappoints Brewers club


Tennessean Staff Writer


PHOENIX ? Recent news that the Nashville Sounds' downtown stadium won't be ready before the start of the 2008 season was met with disappointment ? but not surprise ? by officials with their parent club.


The Milwaukee Brewers entered a two-year working agreement with the Class AAA Sounds following the 2004 season, with the idea that a new facility would be nearly in place by the end of the pact.


However, such a quick timeline would curtail the amount of minority-owned business involvement and public input into the design of the stadium, Sounds General Manager Glenn Yaeger said last week in announcing the 2008 opening date.


"We'd been told April 2007 was going to be the date, and now there's some disappointment on our end," said Scott Martens, Brewers business manager for player development and minor league operations. "We were looking forward to getting into that park in April 2007; that's what everybody was shooting for."


Considering, though, that the '06 season starts in less than a month and little if any physical work has been done on the site on the west bank of the Cumberland River, having a playable facility for Opening Day '07 would have been a stretch, at best.


"You're talking about (constructing) a $43 million stadium in less than 15 months; it just didn't sound feasible," Sounds Manager Frank Kremblas said.


Kremblas didn't figure the delay would affect the future working relationship between the Sounds and Brewers, though Martens wasn't so sure.


"I'm sure that's something that will be discussed over the next few months," Martens said. "We'll see if it is still on course for 2008 or if other obstacles end up popping up. They seem like they have been for the last six months.


"The reason we originally signed on was to get into this new ballpark. We're going to see where things go, see if things stay on track for April 2008. There's a lot of stuff that could happen between now and then."


Yaeger expressed optimism that the relationship with the Sounds and Brewers would more than likely extend beyond the end of the 2006 campaign ? but did acknowledge that both sides could have options to explore.


"I still think the Sounds and Nashville are far more attractive to the Brewers now than they were in 2005," Yaeger said. "We're much closer to a new park now in Nashville than we were when we signed the agreement with them in '05."

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  • 7 months later...
  • 1 month later...

We've been following the ballpark developments in Nashville -- there have been many articles and columns written since the last update in this thread from early November. The latest indicates that the opening could now be in July 2008, not Opening Day 2008 -- still working out site cleanup issues and other details. They still have not broken ground, were hoping to do February 1st, that's now likely to be delayed. The Brewers can't be thrilled with the news, although that's an assumption here, no comment from them.



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"The concern is, 'Is this thing ever going to happen?' " At-Large Metro Councilman David Briley said Wednesday.


Some building contractors and real-estate insiders are growing more pessimistic about the ballpark being built as construction costs continually rise.


Complete link:



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From the Sounds GM:


Dear Sounds fan,


I am writing to share important information about the proposed downtown ballpark. As you know the Sounds, Metro and Struever Brothers have been targeting an April 2008 completion date for the Ballpark. Unfortunately the requirements of the project are dictating an April 2009 Ballpark completion date.


Ballpark construction cannot begin until the construction account is fully funded from contributions by the Sounds and our development partner Struever Brothers. Although we had hoped this funding would occur in time to allow a 2008 completion date we have now passed the critical funding date for a 2008 completion to occur.


We fully expect a full funding of the construction account will occur by April 15, 2007. We remain enthusiastic and committed to this great Downtown Development Project and look forward to the many benefits this project will bring to Nashville.


The entire Sounds organization thanks you for your continued support and patience. Please contact me or anyone on our staff if you would like additional information about the progress of the new Ballpark.




Glenn Yaeger

General Manager

Nashville Sounds

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Latest editorial from the Nashville City Paper -- wonder if the Brewers can escape their four-year player development contract if need be.


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Sounds need to step up to the plate


The saga of the Nashville Sounds is getting to be a very tired, aggravating story.


And if the team fails to meet a series of deadlines this week to get Metro government documents and plans for their proposed new ballpark, the Sounds tale may come to a very anti-climactic end.


We are pulling for the Sounds as are their fans, the business community and quite a few public officials. Minor League ballparks have been key to the development of quite a few thriving urban centers in the South and Midwest. It is quality, affordable sports entertainment that is family and fan friendly.


The Sounds handling of this opportunity to build a new ballpark has been nothing short of astonishing. Deadline after deadline has been missed, seemingly without any explanation. There is always what appears to be on the front end a very plausible, businesslike excuse as to why paperwork and financing deadlines are missed. When one adds it up, it begins to appear the Sounds simply are not capable of getting their act together on this project.


The key may be in their last request to Metro and their development partner for each entity to get more involved in the project, something that appeared to observers to be a plea for more money. The Sounds already have a good deal, and Metro should not change its offer.


Metro attorneys have set forth this week as being key to the Sounds deal, as many documents on design and financing are needed to get the project through Metro government?s many boards and committees in time for an April Metro Council vote.


If the Sounds cannot meet deadlines this week, they need to end the ongoing game of wordplay and explain in simple terms why not. They also, should they miss the deadline, step up and give Nashville?s fans, elected officials and taxpayers a real accounting of the possibilities of this development actually happening.


The Sounds have a hearty fan base, a business community and the city?s elected officials pulling for them. They need to remember that and offer a very straightforward answer as to whether or not they can pull off this project as an organization.



Here's a link to a story in today's Tennessean with more. It includes this quote which is rather ominous:


"We know the requirements, we know the deadline, and we're prepared to live with the consequences," (Sounds GM Glenn) Yaeger said Wednesday.



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Editorial from the Tennessean on Monday:




Time to do the Sounds deal or move on



Enough is enough.


If the Nashville Sounds and their development partner, Struever Bros. Eccles & Rouse, really want to turn the old downtown thermal plant land into a new stadium and condo complex, they need to stop with the double speak and tell the city, taxpayers, mayor, Metro Council and baseball fans what the holdup is. And they need to do it this week.


We want answers. And we want them now.


Why, after a year and missed deadlines, isn't this deal done? Their usual answer ? it's complicated ? isn't good enough. Now the two sides are coming back to the city and asking for yet another extension because they aren't going to make the April 16 deadline ? a day they said was do or die for the deal. Metro Finance Director David Manning gave that idea a chilly reception.


City officials are crying foul, as well they should. It's a fine piece of waterfront property we're going to let these folks use. The new baseball stadium is the one large piece of downtown's changing face that has lingered in limbo longer than an overdue pregnant woman. Trust among all involved has taken a lengthy vacation.


Questions abound


The Metro Council's Budget and Finance Committee has called a special meeting for 3:30 p.m. Wednesday and have told the Sounds they want some real answers to some good questions. Among them:


Why are they now coming back to the table wanting yet another extension? What mistakes have been made, and have they fixed the problems? Is this thing on life support?


Are banks balking? Can they not get the money together? Are the Sounds trying to get rid of their partner? Is the deal realistically salvageable? And does Sounds owner Al Gordon really want this thing to be built?


Gordon has been so notably absent through most every step of this process. He's come to town a couple of times, and he met a couple of weeks ago with the developers. But he hasn't stopped by the council chamber or the mayor's office to explain the delays.


Even Bud Adams, when he came knocking with the Houston Oilers, worked the room and said please and thank you.


The other big problem facing the Sounds deal is a little thing called the Metro election. More than half the Metro Council will be running for re-election or some other local office this summer. Deals for ball teams, even ones like this that cost no direct city tax dollars, are not politically popular on the campaign trail. These candidates want a real explanation they can share for voters of why the Sounds project wants yet another extension.


There is no 10th inning on this one. This is the week where we buy into the Sounds deal or we don't. Or it's one, two, three strikes.


You're out.



Now it looks like there is a proposal to extend financing until October 31st -- who knows if that still allows for an Opening Day 2009 debut?


Struever has filed draft legislation with Metro to allow it and the Sounds until Oct. 31 of this year to complete financing and design work for the ballpark, and they hope to reach an accord regarding a revised financing structure for the project by Wednesday.



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Sounds' future on the line

Hangup on ballpark raises odds of team moving to another city


Tennessean Staff Writers


If they don't build it, pro baseball in Nashville could be done.


That's the reality if plans for a new downtown ballpark fall through.


The Nashville Sounds are attempting to finalize financial arrangements and other groundwork for construction to begin, but the controversial and slow-moving project has left many wondering if it's ever going to happen.


Count the Milwaukee Brewers as one of the concerned parties. The Sounds are the Triple-A affiliate of the Brewers. If the project falls through, the Brewers said they would consider looking for another affiliate.


"Obviously, we're extremely disappointed that this hasn't been going as smoothly as we like," said Scott Martens, the Brewers' business manager for player development and minor league operations. "Last July we made the commitment to the Sounds and to Nashville to re-up for four years with the understanding that we would be in the new ballpark in 2008."


The Brewers bit their lips when it was announced that the opening would be pushed back to April 2009.


"Should it come out that it's not going to happen in 2009, absolutely we'd have to look at other options and see what can and what can't be done," Martens said.


Sounds General Manager Glenn Yaeger said it was possible Nashville could lose the Sounds, but that the organization was determined to remain in Nashville.


"If we continue to get major pushback, then obviously our first requirement and responsibility is to Major League Baseball and our affiliate," he said.


The Sounds and Brewers agreed to a two-year deal in the fall of 2004. Last July, the Sounds extended the Player Development Contract with the Brewers for four years.


The current contract runs through the 2010 season, but the Brewers could break the agreement if a new ballpark isn't constructed or massive improvements aren't made to Greer Stadium, the current home of the Sounds.


Team has other options


Yaeger was quick to point out that there are several other options to explore before the Sounds would consider moving to another city.


The Sounds would first look to renovate Greer Stadium, which opened in 1978 and is considered a dinosaur among Triple-A parks. The second option would be to try to find another Middle Tennessee site to build on. Lastly, the Sounds would attempt to revisit the downtown site with a new development plan.


During original negotiations with the Brewers, the Sounds publicly said a new stadium was necessary for the team to stay in Nashville long-term. When asked if that is still true, Yaeger said, "If we can't save the deal at the Thermal site, we've got to take immediate action to make sure we don't lose the team."


Significant improvements would have to be made to Greer if the downtown ballpark falls through. Part of the work would be to bring the ballpark up to standards required by the Americans with Disabilities Act, at a cost of $10 million that Metro would be responsible for.


At yesterday's meeting between the Sounds and Metro's Budget & Finance Committee, Metro Council member at large David Briley said that if the Sounds can't get a deal completed for the new ballpark, the team shouldn't plan on asking Metro for money to improve Greer.


Potential sites abound


If the Sounds exhaust all possibilities in Middle Tennessee, there is a burgeoning marketplace for Triple-A teams.


Jacksonville, Fla., Orlando, Fla., Reno, Nev., and more than one California city have expressed interest in bringing in Triple-A organizations.


"Jacksonville had Triple-A baseball in the 1960s, and people all the time ask me if we'll ever get Triple-A baseball again," said Peter Bragan Jr., president of the Double-A Jacksonville Suns. "I think it would be neat."


Multiple cities have laid groundwork to make the Triple-A transition seamless. New Double-A and Single-A ballparks have been built in recent years, and most seat more than 11,000 fans, the minimum requirement for a Triple-A team.


Jacksonville, for example, spent $26 million for its ballpark, which opened in 2003. Bragan originally wanted 8,000 seats, but city officials had 11,000 seats installed.


"There seems to be an increasing appetite for quality minor-league sports across the country," said Don Hinchey, vice president of communications for The Bonham Group, a sports marketing firm in Denver, Colo. "It's very affordable entertainment for the entire family and it does provide a sense of civic pride. It's a nice amenity to have."

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