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Weekend edition March 10, 2023 | Shannon Smith

News Roundup | Baseball, mountains, and lunch with the governor

Here’s your weekly roundup of business news from throughout the Knoxville region.

Downtown stadium price tag increases to $114 million

What was once supposed to be a $65 million multi-purpose stadium and event venue in Downtown Knoxville is now nearly doubled in price.

The project, slated to open in 2025, now has a “Guaranteed Maximum Price” of $114 million, according to a joint release from Knox County and the City of Knoxville.

No additional money will come from taxpayers. Tennessee Smokies owner Randy Boyd will be paying $13 million of his own out-of-pocket money toward the total, as well as loaning an additional $20 million to the project, according to reporting by Knox News. The stadium would be home to both the Smokies baseball program and One Knox professional soccer team.

Pending approval from the Sports Authority Board to issue the originally agreed upon $65 in bonds to fund most of the project, construction will begin this spring.

Nearly 13 million people visit the Smokies in 2022

Great Smoky Mountains National Park experienced its second busiest year ever in 2022 with 12,937,633 visits.

Last year’s visitation was more than 1.5 million above the park’s ten-year average, and more than the visitation of Yellowstone, Yosemite, and Grand Canyon national parks combined. This marks the fourth time the park has exceeded 12 million yearly visits.

The new Park it Forward parking tag program will generate much-needed revenues to improve visitor services and address longstanding maintenance needs in alignment with annual fluctuations in visitation. Effective now, the park will implement the parking tag program. Any vehicle parked anywhere in the park will need to display a $5 daily, $15 weekly, or $40 annual parking tag. All of the revenue from the parking tag program will stay in the park to improve visitor services.

Reserve your spot for lunch with the governor

Join the Knoxville Chamber as they welcome Governor Bill Lee to the 2023 Governor’s Luncheon to share his vision for East Tennessee, his legislative priorities, and his outlook on the business climate for our region.

The lunch will be held from 11:30 a.m. to 1 p.m. on Friday, March 31 at the Hilton Knoxville at 501 West Church Avenue in Downtown Knoxville.

Individual tickets and reserved tables are available now. If your company needs to be invoiced, please contact Emily Miller at

New leaders announced at South College

South College has promoted Neil Heatherly to president of its main campus on Lonas Drive in Knoxville, and Dr. Tiffany Skinner to serve as dean of the school of nursing across the institution’s footprint.

Heatherly joined South College in 2022 as vice president of healthcare strategies. He previously served in healthcare leadership roles, most recently as president and chief administrative officer of Parkwest Medical Center.

Skinner joined South College in 2018 as an assistant professor of nursing and was elevated to associate dean of nursing in 2020. She previously served in various nurse practitioner, education, and RN roles at local medical centers.

South College, a multi-campus institution founded in Knoxville, Tennessee in 1882, offers 100-plus programs and concentrations taught at eight physical campuses and online.

LDA Engineering adds new VP

LDA Engineering has hired Ethan Elyasian as vice president of operations of its newly created LDA Fiber division.

“Ethan has the right blend of expertise and operational experience to lead and grow this new business, filling a vital role to manage the core business processes and resources,” said Jason Brooks, CEO of LDA Engineering. “We’re glad to welcome him as we focus on serving existing fiber clients and bringing more on board throughout the Southeast.”

LDA Fiber develops high-speed fiber systems for telecommunications and infrastructure clients to meet the need of public and private investments to expand the reach of dependable, high-speed internet.

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