Emails reveal Sevier leaders ‘shocked’ at desire to move Smokies baseball team

Emails also reveal proposal for short season team to replace Smokies in Sevier County

Tennessee Smokies Stadium baseball

KODAK (WATE) – WATE 6 On Your Side has obtained more emails exchanged between more local officials discussing the future of the Tennessee Smokies.

One exchange shows Sevier County leaders expressing shock after a meeting last May in which they claimed to have learned of a proposal from Knoxville and Knox County to move the team. The emails also contain a news release – that was never sent out and dated August 12, 2016 – stating that Sevierville and Sevier County had learned that Smokies owner Randy Boyd would be asking Knoxville and Knox County to build a new stadium with an estimated cost of between $50 million and $60 million.

The release was drawn up weeks before news surfaced that Boyd was buying property in Knoxville’s Old City neighborhood, one of the same locations that years before had been part of a study into a new ball field.

Another email, which contained a statement from Boyd Sports, LLC, and marked as “for discussion purposes only,” proposes that the Smokies continue playing at the Sevier County stadium for the 2017 and 2018 seasons, but possibly relocating in 2019 – six years short of the end of the stadium lease.

More online: Read the emails

The Smokies would add a a Cubs short season team in the Appalachian League as soon as permissions and approvals could be obtained, which would result in games every day at Smokies Stadium in the second half of the 2017 and 2018 seasons. If the Smokies relocate, the proposal calls for the short season team to remain in Sevier County and the Smokies would commit to bringing up to six special events like UT, ETSU, Walters State and high school tournaments.

The proposal said if the Smokies do not relocate, the two teams will still continue. The Smokies would also continue to pay the lease until 2025. The Smokies would then have the option to purchase the facility or extend the lease.

Previous story: Emails: Discussion as early as 2014 to move Smokies baseball team to Knoxville

The Smokies’ lease on the stadium in Kodak expires in 2025 and would require Boyd to pay off more than $6 million in debt from the building of the stadium if the team were to move.

Boyd has said he has no immediate plans for the Knox Rail Salvage property and says it’s no secret he’s had conversations with Knoxville and Sevier County about moving the team, calling those conversations “in the earliest stages of looking for a long-term win-win plan.”

The city of Knoxville reiterated its position Friday issuing a statement saying the city “has not made or received any proposals in regard to baseball in Knoxville. As we have said, we would be open to discussions about baseball, but there is nothing on the table right now.”

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