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Weekend edition March 29, 2024 | Katelyn Keenehan

Revitalization projects take Knoxville social scene to new heights

Here is a roundup of some of the new and developing business ventures in Knoxville.

Knoxville Smokies Stadium opens in 2025

The long-anticipated construction project near the Old City in downtown Knoxville is well underway. Randy Boyd, the owner of the Smokies Baseball Team, and major funder of the new downtown stadium said the park will be ready for opening day in 2025.

City leaders, community members, and growth advocates believe the stadium will drive tourism, economic boom, and revitalize a long-dormant part of the Old City. The total cost of the project is around $114 million, with Boyd personally contributing $13 million, and taking out an additional $20 million loan, according to reporting by the Knoxville News Sentinel. The other $33 million comes from  local government bonds, state grants, and investment earnings.

Kern’s Food Hall revitalizes Kern’s Bakery building

The former Kern’s Bakery in South Knoxville is set to unveil a new food hall experience, featuring multiple culinary concepts, a brewery taproom, rooftop lounges, and an outdoor event lawn.

Developers are eager to open Kern’s Food Hall on April 13, promising an exciting and expansive addition to Knoxville’s culinary scene, specifically in South Knoxville. Unlike traditional food halls, Kern’s will feature mostly local and regional vendors, fostering a vibrant community atmosphere. Notable tenants include Archer Paper Goods, Monday Night Brewing, and Irvey’s Ice Cream.

The spacious property will also offer ample parking, multiple bars, and various seating options, encouraging exploration and relaxation. While challenges have delayed the opening, including unforeseen historical complexities, developers remain optimistic about the project’s potential to revitalize the South Knoxville area. With a mix of history and innovation, Kern’s Food Hall promises to be a must-visit destination for locals and visitors alike. For more information, visit the food hall’s website.

Sunsphere Welcome Center gets a facelift

Visit Knoxville announced the commencement of construction for the Sunsphere Welcome Center, marking Phase II of the iconic structure’s renovation plan. The Welcome Center, situated on the third-floor level, will offer enhanced visitor experiences including staffed ticketing, expanded retail, and information services. Anticipated to be completed by the end of 2024, the Welcome Center aims to elevate the allure of the Sunsphere and World’s Fair Park.

The renovation also includes a solar array canopy, symbolizing the theme of the 1982 World’s Fair, and interior enhancements such as panoramic windows and a unique skylight feature. Additionally, improvements to the third-floor level include a new roof and a vibrant paint treatment inspired by the colors of a Rubik’s Cube. Despite ongoing construction, the Sunsphere will remain open to the public with any closures announced on

Asylum 801 is the first step in launching the LunaVerse

The upcoming opening of a new nightclub called Asylum 801 is the first of several developments planned for the newly established Asylum District. The nightclub is part of a larger entertainment complex called LunaVerse Knoxville, envisioned by owner Scott West.

The West family helped spur the revitalization of Market Square by bringing in well-known entertainment venues like Scruffy City Hall and Preservation Pub.

According to the LunaVerse Facebook page, the concept of Asylum 801 is inspired by a far-fetched story involving rogue doctors from Oak Ridge discovering an extraterrestrial artifact, leading to a rift in space and time. Despite its fantastical origin, Asylum 801 aims to offer a consistent entertainment experience, with plans for regular events and resident DJs.

The nightclub occupies a large space and is part of a multimillion-dollar investment by West’s family, which aims to revive the nightclub scene in Knoxville. The opening day is Thursday, April 4.

Courtesy: LunaVerse Facebook


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