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First Tennessee Park is a baseball park in downtown Nashville, Tennessee, United States. The home of the Triple-A Nashville Sounds of the Pacific Coast League (PCL), it opened on April 17, 2015, and can seat up to 10,000 people. It replaced the Sounds' former home, Herschel Greer Stadium, where the team played from its founding in 1978 until 2014.

First Tennessee Park
FirstTennesseeParkLogo.png
First Tennessee Park, April 20, 2015 - 2.jpg
First Tennessee Park at dusk
Location19 Junior Gilliam Way[1]
Nashville, Tennessee
United States
Coordinates36°10′23″N 86°47′06″W / 36.173031°N 86.785033°W / 36.173031; -86.785033Coordinates: 36°10′23″N 86°47′06″W / 36.173031°N 86.785033°W / 36.173031; -86.785033
OwnerMetropolitan Government of Nashville and Davidson County
OperatorNashville Sounds Baseball Club
Capacity8,500 (fixed seating)[2]
10,000 (plus berm seating)[2]
Record attendance11,824 (March 24, 2019; Nashville Sounds vs. Texas Rangers)[3]
Field sizeBaseball:
Left Field: 330 ft (100 m)
Left-Center Field: 386 ft (118 m)
Center Field: 403 ft (123 m)
Right-Center Field: 388 ft (118 m)
Right Field: 310 ft (94 m)[4]
Soccer: 115 yd × 72 yd
(105 m × 66 m)[5]
Acreage10.8 acres (4.4 ha)[4]
SurfaceBermuda Tifway 419 grass[4]
Construction
Broke groundJanuary 27, 2014[6]
OpenedApril 17, 2015[9]
Construction cost$91 million[7]
($96.2 million in 2018 dollars[8])
ArchitectPopulous[2]
Hastings Architecture Associates, LLC[2]
Project managerGobbell Hays Partners, Inc.[2]
Capital Project Solutions, Inc.[2]
Structural engineerWalter P. Moore[2]
Services engineerSmith Seckman Reid, Inc.[2]
General contractorBarton Malow/Bell/Harmony, A Joint Venture, LLC[2]
Tenants
Nashville Sounds (PCL) 2015–present
Nashville SC (USLC) 2018–present

The park was built on the site of the former Sulphur Dell, a minor league ballpark in use from 1870 to 1963. It is located between Third and Fifth Avenues on the east and west (home plate, the pitcher's mound, and second base are directly in line with Fourth Avenue to the stadium's north and south) and between Junior Gilliam Way and Harrison Street on the north and south. The Nashville skyline can be seen from the stadium to the south.

The design of the park incorporates elements of Nashville's baseball and musical heritage and the use of imagery inspired by Sulphur Dell, the city's former baseball players and teams, and country music. Its most distinctive feature is its guitar-shaped scoreboard—a successor to the original guitar scoreboard at Greer Stadium. The ballpark's wide concourse wraps entirely around the stadium and provides views of the field from every location. A greenway beyond the outfield wall connects with two other greenways in the city.

Though primarily a venue for the Nashville Sounds, other collegiate and high school baseball teams based in the area, such as the Vanderbilt Commodores and Belmont Bruins, have played some games at First Tennessee Park. It is also home to the City of Hope Celebrity Softball Game. Since 2018, it has been the home stadium of Nashville SC, a soccer team playing in the United Soccer League Championship.

Contents

HistoryEdit

PlanningEdit

As early as 2006, the Nashville Sounds had planned to leave Herschel Greer Stadium for a new ballpark to be called First Tennessee Field,[10] but the project was abandoned after the city, developers, and team could not come to terms on a plan to finance its construction.[11][12] Instead, Greer was repaired and upgraded to keep it close to Triple-A standards until a new stadium could be built.[13] In late 2013, talks about the construction of a new ballpark were revived.[14] Three possible sites were identified by the architectural firm Populous as being suitable for a new stadium: the east bank of the Cumberland River, the North Gulch area, and Sulphur Dell.[15] Sulphur Dell, the site of the city's original ballpark from 1870 to 1963, was chosen.[14]

Mayor Karl Dean drafted plans for financing the stadium and acquiring the necessary land from the state.[14] The deal involved the Metropolitan Government of Nashville and Davidson County (Metro) receiving the state-owned Sulphur Dell property—then in use as a parking lot for state employees—in exchange for paying the state $18 million for the construction of a 1,000-car parking garage on the site and $5 million for an underground parking garage below the proposed new state library and archives.[16] The city also acquired the land on which the Nashville School of the Arts is located.[16]

The financing plan involved public and private funding. At the time, the city planned to pay $75 million for the acquisition of the land and construction of the stadium project.[17][18] However, a 2017 audit revealed that it had actually paid $91 million after accounting for additional costs associated with the expedited schedule and infrastructure work around the project site.[7] The stadium is owned by the city and is leased to the team for 30 years, until 2045.[16] The Sounds ownership group agreed to spend $50 million on a new, mixed-use and retail development located on a plot abutting the ballpark to the east.[16] This land was sold to Chris and Tim Ward, sons of co-owner Frank Ward,[19] on which a two-story retail center featuring a bowling alley, live music space, and a restaurant and bar is planned beyond left field.[20] The construction of a 285-unit multi-family apartment building beyond the left-center field wall, to be known as The Derby, is tentatively planned for completion in 2020.[21][22] North of the site, Embrey Development built a privately funded 306-unit luxury apartment complex called The Carillon.[23] The city's original $75 million planned expenditure resulted in taking on $4.3 million in annual debt, paid for by five city revenue streams: an annual $700,000 Sounds' lease payment, $650,000 in stadium-generated sales tax revenue, $750,000 in property taxes from the Ward brothers' developments, $675,000 in property taxes from the Embrey development, and $520,000 in tax increment financing.[16] The additional overage was paid with existing Metro capital funds.[7] The city pays $345,000 for annual maintenance of the stadium.[16]

ConstructionEdit

The ballpark project received the last of its necessary approbations from the Metro Council, the State Building Commission, and the Nashville Sports Authority on December 10, 2013.[24][25] Groundbreaking took place on January 27, 2014; the public ceremony was attended by Mayor Dean, Sounds owner Frank Ward, Minor League Baseball president Pat O'Conner, and Milwaukee Brewers General Manager Doug Melvin.[6] At the time, the Sounds were the Triple-A affiliate of the Brewers.[26]

 
The early stages of construction

The construction team began site excavation on March 3, 2014.[25] Workers excavated artifacts dating to around 1150 AD. Fire pits and broken pieces of ceramic pans were found in the ground below what would be left field. Archaeologists believe the area was the site of a Native American settlement and that the artifacts were the remnants of a workshop where mineral water from underground sulfur-bearing springs was boiled to collect salt.[27] The artifacts are on permanent display in the Tennessee State Museum's Mississippian Period exhibit.[28] A portion of the property was used as a city cemetery in the 1800s. The interred were relocated.[29]

Construction of the ballpark's steel frame began on August 18;[25] 2,435 short tons (2,209 metric tons) of steel and 16,314 cu yd (12,473 m3) of concrete were used.[25] By November 3, the installation and testing of the stadium's four free-standing light poles and two concourse-based lighting arrays had begun.[25] Installation of the 8,500 seats started on January 20, 2015.[25] The guitar-shaped scoreboard began to be installed on February 23.[25] On March 19, the home plate from Greer Stadium was transferred to First Tennessee Park, and crews began laying the sod.[25]

During construction, the need for new water and electrical supply lines arose. Because these were not factored into the original $65 million cost, another $5 million was appropriated from existing capital funds.[30] Another $5 million was later required to pay for cleaning contaminated soil, increased sub-contractor pricing, additional labor costs incurred by delays caused by snow and ice, and upgrades including the guitar-shaped scoreboard.[17] The Sounds ownership team contributed $2 million toward the cost of the scoreboard.[17] These and other additional expenditures, such as a $9.5 million greenway, $5.6 million for street paving, sidewalks, and electrical work, and $3.6 million in flood prevention, brought the total construction cost of the stadium to $56 million and the total cost of the project to $91 million.[7]

The facility received LEED silver certification by the U.S. Green Building Council in April 2015 for its level of environmental sustainability and for using strategies for responsible site development, water savings, energy efficiency, materials selection, and indoor environmental quality.[31][32] Some of the ballpark's environmentally friendly initiatives include a 2,800 sq ft (260 m2) green roof on a concessions building along right field, rainwater harvesting, and a rain garden.[9] A section of greenway beyond the outfield wall connects the Cumberland River Greenway to the Bicentennial Mall Greenway.[33] The project team also diverted or recycled 90 percent of construction waste from landfills, and almost a third of building materials were regionally sourced.[32]

Naming rightsEdit

Memphis-based bank First Tennessee purchased the naming rights to the stadium for ten years with an option for a further ten years, naming it First Tennessee Park.[34] The bank's name had been attached to the team's previous attempt at building a new stadium a decade earlier.[10] Financial terms of the deal were not disclosed. The ballpark will be renamed in fall 2019 when First Horizon National Corporation, the parent company of First Tennessee, unifies its companies under the First Horizon name.[35]

Tenants and eventsEdit

Minor League BaseballEdit

 
The Sounds being introduced before the inaugural game on April 17, 2015

In the ballpark's inaugural game on April 17, 2015, the Sounds defeated the Colorado Springs Sky Sox, 3–2 in 10 innings, courtesy of a walk-off double hit by Max Muncy that scored Billy Burns from first base.[36] Nashville pitcher Arnold León recorded the first strikeout at First Tennessee Park when Colorado Springs' Matt Long struck out swinging as the leadoff hitter at the top of the first inning.[36] The park's first hit was a left field single that came in the top of the second inning off the bat of Colorado Springs' Matt Clark.[36] Clark also recorded the stadium's first RBI, slapping a single to center field in the fourth inning that sent Luis Sardiñas across the plate for the park's first run.[37] The first home run in the park's history was hit by Nashville's Joey Wendle four games later on April 21 against the Oklahoma City Dodgers.[38]

Tickets for the home opener, which went on sale March 23, sold out in approximately 15 minutes.[39] Though berm and standing-room-only tickets are normally sold only on the day of games, the team began selling these in advance of the first game due to high demand.[39] Paid attendance for the first game was a standing-room only crowd of 10,459.[36] Before the game, Mayor Dean threw out the ceremonial first pitch.[36] "The Star-Spangled Banner" was performed by Charles Esten (a star of the television series Nashville), who also sang at the park's ribbon-cutting ceremony earlier in the day.[36] Also present at the ribbon-cutting were team owners Masahiro Honzawa and Frank Ward, Pacific Coast League president Branch B. Rickey, Oakland Athletics president Michael Crowley, Mayor Dean, and members of the Metro Council who voted to approve financing for the stadium.[14] The Sounds were, at this time, the Triple-A affiliate of the Athletics.[36]

By the all-star break in mid-July, attendance had reached 332,604, a higher attendance than in the entire 2014 season at Greer Stadium, which had totaled 323,961 people over 66 games. At the end of the 71-game 2015 season, 565,548 people had attended a game at First Tennessee Park, for an average attendance of 7,965 per game, compared to 4,909 per game for the last season at Greer.[40][41] The Sounds' June 4 game against the Salt Lake Bees became the first event to be nationally televised from the ballpark.[42] Shown live on the CBS Sports Network as a part of Minor League Baseball's National Game of the Week programming, Nashville was defeated by Salt Lake, 4–2, before a sellout crowd of 10,610.[43]

 
Exhibition game between the Sounds and Texas Rangers on March 24, 2019

In addition to other between-innings entertainment at the park, such as games and giveaways, the Sounds added the Country Legends Race in 2016. It is similar to major league mascot races, such as the Sausage Race and Presidents Race. During the middle of the fifth inning, people in oversized foam caricature costumes depicting country musicians Johnny Cash, George Jones, Reba McEntire, and Dolly Parton race around the warning track from center field, through the visiting bullpen, and to the home plate side of the first base dugout.[44][45]

First Tennessee Park was home to its first postseason baseball in 2016 when the American Southern Division champion Sounds competed in games three, four, and five of the PCL American Conference championship against Oklahoma City. The Sounds won the first game, 6–5, but lost the next two games and the conference championship to the Dodgers, 7–1 and 10–9.[46]

The Sounds hosted an exhibition game against the Texas Rangers, their Major League Baseball (MLB) affiliate, at First Tennessee Park on March 24, 2019. Players appearing in the game for Texas included Delino DeShields Jr., Nomar Mazara, Hunter Pence, Ronald Guzmán, Isiah Kiner-Falefa, Logan Forsythe, Shawn Kelley, and José Leclerc. In a close game, the Sounds defeated the Rangers, 4–3.[3] Nashville's Preston Beck scored the winning run in the bottom of the sixth inning with a two-run homer driving in Eli White.[3] The announced attendance of 11,824 fans set a new ballpark attendance record.[3]

SoccerEdit

 
The playing surface in the midst of a transition between baseball field and soccer field

Nashville SC, an expansion soccer team of the United Soccer League, played its inaugural 2018 season at First Tennessee Park.[47] The club competed in a preseason exhibition Major League Soccer (MLS) match against Atlanta United FC on February 10, 2018, in the first-ever soccer match played at the park.[48] Nashville was defeated amid a rainstorm by Atlanta, 3–1, in front of a crowd of 9,059 people.[49] The park's first goal was scored by Atlanta forward Josef Martínez in the 58th minute. Ropapa Mensah, the youngest player on the Nashville squad, scored the first goal in franchise history in the 64th minute.[50] Nashville's first regular season home match, scheduled for March 24 versus the Pittsburgh Riverhounds, was moved to Nissan Stadium to accommodate a greater number of fans.[51] Their second home match was played at First Tennessee Park on April 7 against the Charlotte Independence before a crowd of 7,487. Nashville SC won, 2–0, on forward Alan Winn's goal in the 24th minute; Mensah added a second goal in the 91st minute.[52] The team's highest attendance occurred on October 13 when 9,083 fans watched Nashville play to a 3–3 draw versus FC Cincinnati in the season finale.[53] At First Tennessee Park, Nashville SC's 2018 season attendance totaled 125,390 over 15 games, with an average attendance of 8,359 per game.[54]

In preparation for playing the majority of their 2019 schedule at the park,[55] Nashville SC competed in a preseason friendly against MLS side New York City FC on February 22.[56] Nashville fell to New York, 2–0, in the rain-soaked match attended by 5,384.[57] The club's May 8 match against the Tampa Bay Rowdies, a 1–0 loss, was shown live on ESPN2 as the first-ever nationally televised regular season USL Championship game.[58] Nashville SC plans to leave First Tennessee Park for Nissan Stadium when it ascends to MLS in 2020.[55]

Other eventsEdit

First Tennessee Park began hosting the annual City of Hope Celebrity Softball Game in 2015. Started in 1990, the event is played during the CMA Music Festival held in Nashville, and was previously held at Herschel Greer Stadium from 1991 to 2014. Two teams of country music stars representing the Grand Ole Opry and iHeartRadio compete in the game with all proceeds going to fund the research and treatment of cancer, diabetes, and other life-threatening diseases. Past participants have included Carrie Underwood, Darius Rucker, Florida Georgia Line, Jason Aldean, Luke Bryan, and Vince Gill.[59] Over $200,000 was raised from the first game held at the park.[60]

On March 29, 2016, the Vanderbilt Commodores and Belmont Bruins became the first collegiate teams to play at the facility.[61] The Commodores defeated the Bruins, 8–2, in front of a crowd of 3,782 people.[62] Vanderbilt, Belmont, and the Lipscomb Bisons have since played subsequent games at the venue.[63] The park also hosted a few Reviving Baseball in Inner Cities youth games in its first season.[61] Since 2016, the course of the Rock 'n' Roll Nashville Marathon has led runners to complete a lap around the field's warning track.[64] The first non-sports event held at First Tennessee Park was the Nashville Brew Festival, held on October 3, 2015.[61] The festival featured over 50 breweries offering unlimited beer with paid admission. On July 16, 2016, the park hosted the first "Big Guitar Brewfest", a name which refers to the ballpark's large guitar-shaped scoreboard, featuring over fifty local and craft breweries, four liquor sampling tents, and food from The Band Box and concession stands.[65] It has come to be an annual event.[66]

The Nashville-based American rock band Kings of Leon, with opener Dawes, performed at First Tennessee Park on September 29, 2017, in the first concert held in the ballpark.[67]

FacilitiesEdit

DesignEdit

 
The home plate entrance and facade

After Sulphur Dell was dismantled on April 16, 1969, the ballpark's sunken field was filled in with rock, dirt, and the remains of the demolished Andrew Jackson Hotel.[68][69] It was then converted to a number of state-owned parking lots for the nearby Tennessee State Capitol.[9] While Sulphur Dell was nestled in an area that was home to the city's garbage dump, stockyards, the Atlantic Ice House building, and other various warehouses,[70][71] First Tennessee Park is now surrounded by new apartments, parking ramps, and restaurants.[9] The facade at the home plate entrance on the stadium's north side is constructed from cast ultra-high-performance concrete planks, zinc panels, and an array of windows that stretches across the full width of the entrance.[72] To the south of the stadium, beyond the outfield wall, is an area that connects the city's Cumberland River Greenway to the Bicentennial Mall Greenway.[33] It will be open to the public on non-game days after the surrounding apartment buildings and retail spaces are completed.[2][73]

The grandstand has a 24-to-36 ft (7.3-to-11.0 m) wide concourse that wraps around the playing field. The field is recessed 17 ft (5.2 m) below the street-level concourse so it can be viewed from the entrances and seats.[74][75] Most of the on-field action can be viewed from the concourse; televisions showing live feeds of the game are located there. The seating bowl provides views of Nashville's skyline to the south.[9]

The ballpark was built to withstand a 100-year flood because it is located on a flood plain. Before its redevelopment, the area, including the original Sulphur Dell ballpark, was prone to regular flooding from the nearby Cumberland River and it flooded during the 2010 Tennessee floods. To prevent water damage, the grandstand has an acrylic floor covering and the field-level suites are equipped with detachable floor boards, food-service tables mounted on casters, and raised floor outlets and electrical switches.[9]

The ballpark's design is inspired by Nashville's heritage, as design elements throughout the park incorporate musical and baseball imagery to connect the park with the city's past.[72] Directional signs are accompanied by information about former Nashville players such as Al Maul, Tom Rogers, and Turkey Stearnes.[76] The park's suites include displays about Sulphur Dell, the Nashville Vols, a minor league team that played there from 1901 to 1961, and in 1963, and other past teams from Nashville. The back of the outfield wall's green metal batter's eye has a tin sign marking the former location of Sulphur Dell's marquee declaring, "Site of Sulphur Dell, Baseball's Most Historic Park, 1870–1963".[76] A series of nine vertical panels on the right field greenway provide information on the history of baseball in Nashville from the 1860s through 1963.[77] Another five panels beyond left field detail facts about the prehistory of the site.[78] Light stanchions in the grandstand and the outfield resemble the lights installed at Sulphur Dell.[9] Details including guitar pick-shaped seating signage and the use of the Sounds' colors identify the ballpark with Nashville's country music heritage and reflect the visual identity of the team.[79]

Before the ballpark's second season in 2016, additional safety netting was added behind home plate which extended the protective netting to cover the seating area behind both dugouts.[80] Other additions to the ballpark included six 14-foot-diameter (4.3 m) ceiling fans on the concourse, new drinking fountains and water bottle filling stations, the opening of a center field entrance adjacent to the new parking garage beyond right-center field, and improvements to the children's fun zone on the first base side.[81]

Playing field and dimensionsEdit

 
The stadium as viewed from left field near the foul pole and home bullpen
 
A diagram of the field

The playing surface at First Tennessee Park is covered with 100,000 sq ft (9,300 m2) of Bermuda Tifway 419 grass sod that was grown on a farm in San Antonio, Texas, then over-seeded with 1,000 lb (450 kg) of perennial rye-grass.[4][82] Over 13,000 sq ft (1,200 m2) of red clay infield soil was brought in from Laceys Spring, Alabama.[14] The warning track surrounding the field is made of 21,000 sq ft (2,000 m2) of crushed red shale on top of 5,000 short tons (4,500 metric tons) of sand and 44,000 cu ft (1,200 m3) of gravel.[25] The field is equipped with a drainage system capable of draining 10 in (25 cm) of water per hour.[2]

The distance from home plate to the outfield wall ranges from 330 ft (100 m) in left field, 403 ft (123 m) in center field, and 310 ft (94 m) in right field.[83] First Tennessee Park's right field wall was set at this shorter-than-normal distance to pay homage to Sulphur Dell's short right field fence that measured just 262 ft (80 m).[84][85] The backstop is approximately 50 ft (15 m) behind the home plate.[74] The field is set 17 ft (5.2 m) below the street-level concourse.[74]

The dugouts, which measure 88 ft (27 m) by 16 ft (4.9 m), are large enough to accommodate each team's staff without the need for relief pitchers to sit in the bullpens.[14] The Sounds' dugout is located on the third-base side; the visiting team's is located on the first-base side.[14] Bullpens are located in foul territory along the left-field and right-field lines near the corner of the outfield wall.[14] The home clubhouse has wooden lockers, two couches, three card tables, and a center table.[86] There is an attached kitchen with two full-size refrigerators and room for hot and cold catering.[86] Other player amenities include large, indoor batting cages, a fully equipped workout room, and a family room for players' partners and children.[9][86] In 2016, the umpire dressing room was named after former Major League Baseball umpire and Nashville native Chuck Meriwether.[87]

In its first season, First Tennessee Park developed a reputation as a pitcher's park. In 2015, its park factors were significantly lower than those at other ballparks in the Pacific Coast League (PCL) and across Triple-A baseball. The park had the lowest run and home-run factors of all 30 Triple-A teams, and its hits factor was the fifth-lowest in Triple-A and the fourth-lowest in the PCL.[88] In 2016, the park had the lowest home-run factors in Triple-A, its runs factor was the sixth-lowest in Triple-A and fifth-lowest in the PCL, and its hits factor was the seventh-lowest in Triple-A and the sixth-lowest in the PCL.[89]

The park was selected to win the 2016 Tennessee Turfgrass Association's Professional Sports Field of the Year Award, recognizing it as the state's top professional sports field with a natural grass playing surface.[90]

When configured for soccer, one side of the field runs parallel to the first base line with the other sideline running from left to right field. One goal is located past the third base dugout, and the other is near the right-center field wall. The pitcher's mound is removed, and the infield dirt and portions of the warning track are sodded over.[47] The pitch measures 115 yd × 72 yd (105 m × 66 m).[5]

ScoreboardEdit

 
The guitar-shaped scoreboard displaying a game's starting lineup

One of Greer Stadium's most distinctive features was its guitar-shaped scoreboard.[91] After First Tennessee Park was approved, the team announced it would not be relocating the original Greer scoreboard, which was technologically outdated and difficult to maintain, to the new stadium.[92] While plans for First Tennessee Park's scoreboard were initially undisclosed, following overwhelming support for Greer's guitar from the community, the team announced plans for a larger, more modern guitar-shaped scoreboard for the new ballpark.[92] The new guitar scoreboard, paid for entirely by the Sounds, was designed by TS Sports in conjunction with Panasonic, and was installed beyond the right-center field wall on the concourse.[83][93]

The scoreboard, which has a 4,200 square foot (390 m2) high definition LED screen, is located in the middle of the concourse; visitors entering or leaving the park through the stadium's right-field entrance on Fifth Avenue pass under it.[93] Excluding the neck and the borders of the body and headstock, the surface of the guitar is composed of LED screens. Overall, the guitar measures 142 by 55 ft (43 by 17 m),[72] its body display is 50.4 by 66.14 ft (15.36 by 20.16 m), the headstock display is 12.6 by 25.2 ft (3.8 by 7.7 m), and the six tuning pegs are 6.3 by 4.2 ft (1.9 by 1.3 m) each.[83] Whereas the scoreboard at Greer was capable of displaying only basic in-game information such as the line score, count, and brief player statistics, the new version can display colorful graphics and animations, photographs, live and recorded video, instant replays, the batting order, fielding positions, and expanded statistics.[93]

As well as the main scoreboard, the ballpark has three more LED displays. A display in the left-center field wall is used for showing in-game pitching statistics, upcoming batters, and advertisements. LED ribbon boards are installed on the facings of each side of the upper deck; these are used to display the inning, score, count, and advertisements.[2] The stadium's three pitch clocks—part of professional baseball's pace-of-game initiatives implemented in Triple-A and Double-A baseball games in 2015—[94] are located on the straightaway center field wall and on each side of the backstop.[76]

SeatingEdit

 
A view of ballpark from the berm

The lower seating bowl is divided into 24 sections and wraps around the playing field from one foul pole to the other.[95] The second level has 16 sections of seating that begin behind third base and wrap around to first base.[95] The last nine rows, from row M, on the first level between the dugouts are sheltered by the upper deck. Seats on both levels are traditional, plastic stadium-style chairs.[95] All lower-level seats behind home plate, seats behind and between the dugouts through row P, and all second-level seats have padded seat cushions.[95] Seats in the three center upper-deck sections behind home plate and all second-level suites also have padded seat backs. A grass berm that can accommodate 1,500 spectators is located beyond the left-center field wall.[2]

The park has several areas reserved for small and large groups. Four field-level suites, each with 33 exterior seats and additional interior space to accommodate up to 50 people, are located directly behind home plate.[9][96] The second level has 18 suites, each accommodating up to 24 people, with 4 indoor drink rail seats and 13 outdoor seats in front.[14][97] Two covered party decks are located on the second level—one at each end—both of which can accommodate up to 75 people each.[97] Between the end of the lower seating bowl in left field and the outfield berm lies a group area which can accommodate up to 600 individuals. This area consists of a covered picnic area, round picnic tables, rearrangeable chairs, and the stadium seats of sections 101 to 104.[96] A section of 4-top tables—semi-circular tables surrounded by four chairs—that can accommodate 108 people at 27 tables is located at the end of the lower seating bowl in right field near a specialty concession area called The Band Box.[97] A small private party area is located in the power alley in front of The Band Box and can accommodate up to 35 people at 4-top tables.[97] Next to this, and directly in front of the scoreboard, is a 200-person group picnic area with standing room and stadium seats with drink rails.[97]

ConcessionsEdit

 
Smoked chicken nachos from The Band Box

Four permanent concession stands and several portable carts located on the concourse offer traditional ballpark foods including hot dogs, corn dogs, pizza, nachos, soft pretzels, popcorn, and ice cream.[14] Each stand also serves foods unique to and common in Nashville and the South, including Nashville hot chicken, pulled pork barbecue sandwiches, and baby back ribs.[98][99] The stadium's second level has a bar, lounge, and concessions area with views of the field; it is accessible only by those with suite, party-deck, or upper-deck tickets.[100][101] Certain menu items, such as prime rib tacos, sliders, and onion rings are only available on the second level.[99]

The Band BoxEdit

 
The Country Club at The Band Box

Another specialty concession area is The Band Box, a 4,000 sq ft (370 m2) outdoor restaurant and bar located on the right field concourse.[102] The restaurant serves variations on traditional ballpark foods including cheeseburgers, chicken sandwiches, jalapeño corn fritters, smoked chicken nachos, quinoa chopped salads, and local draft craft beer.[102] It is accompanied by a 150-person bar to its rear overlooking right field.[14][72][103] The bar has an adjoining lounge area with couches, televisions, ping pong, cornhole, foosball, and shuffleboard, which is open to all game ticket-holders.[76][104] Patrons in the adjacent 4-top seating section can order food and drinks from The Band Box and have items delivered to their seats.[102] On June 28, 2016, a 9-hole miniature golf course, called The Country Club at The Band Box, opened behind the restaurant between the bar and Fifth Avenue. Each of the nine holes exhibits art from different local or regional artists. It is open to game attendees for an additional $5 playing fee.[105]

ParkingEdit

A 1,000-car above-ground parking garage, owned by the state, is located south of the stadium's center field and right field entrances on Harrison Street between Fourth and Fifth Avenues.[106] As the garage is used by state employees during the day, game attendees are only able to use it for evening and weekend games.[107] Other state-owned free parking lots and paid private lots are located in the vicinity.[106] The Metro Transit Authority's Music City Circuit provides bus service to and from a drop-off site at Fifth Avenue and Harrison Street. Nashville BCycle, the city's bike-share program, has a station at First Tennessee Park.[108]

Attendance recordsEdit

First Tennessee Park's single-game attendance record was set on March 24, 2019, during an exhibition game between the Sounds and their major league affiliate, the Texas Rangers, in front of a sellout crowd of 11,824 people.[3] The park's season attendance record of 603,135 was set in 2018, while its average attendance record (8,861) was set in 2017. Five of the top-ten highest-attended games occurred in 2017. There have been 76 sellout games at the stadium.[109] Attendance records through the completion of the 2018 season are as follows.[110][111]

Single-game attendanceEdit

Bold indicates the winner of each game.

Single-game attendance records
Rank Attendance Date Game result Promotion(s) Ref(s)
1 11,824 March 24, 2019 Texas Rangers – 3, Nashville Sounds – 4 MLB exhibition game [112]
2 11,764 July 3, 2017 Oklahoma City Dodgers – 6, Nashville Sounds – 5 Independence Day celebration / Don Mattingly throwback jersey T-shirt giveaway [113][114]
3 11,759 July 3, 2016 Oklahoma City Dodgers – 4, Nashville Sounds – 1 Independence Day celebration / Military Sunday [115][116]
4 11,692 September 2, 2018 Memphis Redbirds – 2, Nashville Sounds – 1 Memphis Grizzlies Night / Military Sunday / clear tote bag giveaway / post-game fireworks [117][118]
5 11,691 July 4, 2018 Iowa Cubs – 6, Nashville Sounds – 2 Independence Day celebration / Bobby Wahl T-shirt giveaway [119][120]
6 11,684 June 25, 2016 Omaha Storm Chasers – 4, Nashville Sounds – 2 Star Wars Night [121][116]
7 11,678 June 17, 2017 New Orleans Baby Cakes – 2, Nashville Sounds – 3 Cancer Awareness Night / "Strikeout Cancer" T-shirt giveaway / Lego Play Ball Tour [122][123]
8 11,622 June 15, 2019 Salt Lake Bees – 4, Nashville Sounds – 5 615 Day / 615 hat giveaway [124][125]
9 11,596 July 7, 2017 Memphis Redbirds – 2, Nashville Sounds – 3 Star Wars Trilogy Weekend lightsaber giveaway / post-game fireworks [126][127]
10 11,552 June 16, 2017 Iowa Cubs – 1, Nashville Sounds – 7 Lego Play Ball Tour / post-game fireworks [128][123]

Season attendanceEdit

Season attendance records
Rank Year Total attendance Openings Average attendance Ref
Total PCL rank Openings PCL rank Average PCL rank
1 2018 603,135 2nd 69 2nd (tie) 8,741 2nd [129]
2 2017 593,679 2nd 67 5th (tie) 8,861 1st [130]
3 2015 565,548 4th 71 2nd (tie) 7,965 5th [131]
4 2016 504,060 6th 71 2nd (tie) 7,099 7th [132]

Popular cultureEdit

First Tennessee Park has been featured in two music videos. Cole Swindell's "Middle of a Memory" (2016) includes shots of Swindell in the audience watching a Nashville Sounds game as well as footage of the game and an appearance by the team's mascot, Booster.[133] Former Sounds pitcher Barry Zito's music video for "That Sound" (2017), which is about Sounds games, is composed almost entirely of footage of Nashville's games, players, and fans shot at the stadium during the 2016 season.[134]

Trisha Yearwood filmed scenes for the "Tailgaiting" episode of Food Network's Trisha's Southern Kitchen at the ballpark on May 31, 2016.[135][136] The August 5, 2017, episode of CMT Hot 20 Countdown was filmed at First Tennessee Park on July 25 and included performances by country musicians Michael Ray and Chris Lane from before that day's game.[137] Segments for a series of season 36 (2018–2019) episodes of Wheel of Fortune, including host Pat Sajak throwing out the first pitch, were shot at the ballpark on May 4, 2018.[138]

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External linksEdit