Wednesday, February 27, 2008

Dean: Sounds may have missed best chance for new ballpark

By MICHAEL CASS • Staff Writer (Tennessean) • February 27, 2008 Mayor Karl Dean says the Nashville Sounds will have to show a commitment to invest in their own ballpark and to get the project done before the city will agree to provide them a place to build it. In an interview Wednesday, he expressed skepticism that the Sounds could complete a deal and said the team might have missed its best shot after a plan for a new stadium downtown collapsed last year. “We’re certainly not going to offer a better deal, and we may not be able to offer the same deal,” Dean said. Sounds General Manager Glenn Yaeger said Tuesday that his boss, owner Al Gordon, talked to Dean last week about the team’s future, including the end of its Greer Stadium lease after the upcoming season and the prospect of a new stadium. Dean said there has been no decision on extending the lease, but he is open to hearing a proposal. “I’ll work with them to keep the team in Nashville,” Dean said. The Sounds want to build a new ballpark downtown. They had an agreement with Metro to do that on a prime piece of city-owned, riverfront real estate, but the deal went off the rails when the Sounds and their development partner couldn’t agree on financing last spring. Dean, a former Metro law director, said he would want to be sure a new stadium could be completed and that every party to a deal could live up to its promises. He said the city, which is heading toward a tight budget year in 2008-09, has no deal or understanding with the Sounds for a new stadium right now. “That was frustrating,” the mayor said of last year’s experience. “That is the past. And I don’t want to revisit the past, but at the same time, I have learned from the past.” He also said the Sounds, who are hoping for a state law change that would allow them to collect sales tax revenues generated by a new stadium and surrounding development, should be looking more to the private sector. The mayor’s office wasn’t consulted on the bill. “Maybe they need to be looking beyond public partners,” Dean said. “Maybe they need to be looking for additional private partners.”

No comments: