Nashville Mayor: Don’t Get Too Excited About New Ballpark Just Yet

The Sulphur Dell stadium was abandoned as a minor league ballfield in 1963 after nearly 100 years of operation. Credit: Sulphur Dell via Facebook

The Sulphur Dell stadium was abandoned as a minor league ballfield in 1963 after nearly 100 years of operation. It was briefly turned into a speedway, then torn down in 1969. Credit: Sulphur Dell via Facebook

Nashville Mayor Karl Dean had hoped to keep plans for reviving baseball at the old Sulphur Dell site quiet a little bit longer.

The city meant to have locked down the land near Bicentennial Mall, which is mostly owned by the state. But as the circle of trust grew to include private developers and state officials, news leaked out.

“We knew something like this could happen,” Dean told reporters at a briefing Friday. “We have to move forward and not make announcements and get people too excited until we actually come to agreements and actually have a finished product we can present.”

While a pitch to the state includes figures and timelines, Dean says all numbers are preliminary, including the $40 million price tag and being ready for opening day 2015. But one thing is certain to Dean.

“I think if we’re going to build a stadium while I’m mayor, it’s going to be Sulphur Dell,” he said.

Dean stops short of saying the city owes some investment to North Nashville. But he points out hundreds of millions of dollars has been pumped into the Lower Broadway area in recent years, not least of which is the Metro-funded $585 million Music City Center.

The Germantown and Salemtown areas north of the state capitol building have come alive since the city was first seriously considering new sites for a  minor league ballpark. Ultimately, a riverfront park on the old thermal plant site downtown fell apart in 2007. It was still considered the preferred site by the team’s owners as recently as 2011.

The most recent consultant study put three sites in the running: the East Bank near LP Field, the north Gulch on Charlotte Ave. and the old Sulphur Dell site.

“I think this would be a great impetus,” Council member Erica Gilmore says about the Sulphur Dell plans.“I think that would be the last piece that would really help the neighborhood to push it over and make it a really wonderful development.”

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