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'Scaled back' outdoor venue still in the works

Matthew Lane • Aug 19, 2018 at 12:00 PM

KINGSPORT — An outdoor venue at the old General Shale property — one of the most popular ideas to come out of the One Kingsport initiative — is still in the works and a top priority among city and elected officials.

However, the project will likely be scaled back compared to its original concept and not include a permanent stage or restrooms when it opens for business in two years.

OUTDOOR VENUE

Kingsport is planning to build an outdoor venue across from Brickyard Park and use it for concerts, festivals and special events.

An early conceptual plan shows an open lawn with seating capacity for 15,000, two adjacent parking lots, two multipurpose fields and cross country running paths of one, two and three miles. The plan also shows Martin Luther King Jr. Drive extended to Cherokee Street and a pedestrian bridge over the railroad tracks.

During a recent meeting, the One Kingsport Advisory Commission received an update on the project and the plan moving forward.

WHAT’S BEING PROPOSED

The project is essentially two parts: the creation of an outdoor venue ($2 million) and the construction of the road ($3 million).

Assistant City Manager Chris McCartt told the commission the venue would include a concrete pad, a manicured field for seating, a paved parking lot and upgrades to the power and water.

What’s not included are a permanent stage and restrooms. A portable stage would need to be brought in for concerts and other events, and the city would have to evaluate the need of purchasing one, McCartt said.

“Initially the price tag was several million dollars and we looked at a lot of amenities. The price tag, upon further evaluation ... we just did not feel like it would be something we’re willing to do with the funding available,” McCartt said. “The task was then to scale it down and see what we could build today for ultimately what we wanted to achieve.”

McCartt said these amenities could be added to the park at a later date, noting that Eastman and Domtar parks look much different today than when they were originally built.

The project will also include an offroad bicycle course adjacent to the outdoor venue ($125,000) and a 120-foot pedestrian bridge over the railroad tracks at Cherokee Street ($3 million). Everything except the road would be funded through One Kingsport money, McCartt said.

THE NEXT STEP

Design work for the venue and new road could start this fall and wrap up by the spring of 2019. In the fall of 2019, Kingsport would go out to bid on the work. Both the road and outdoor venue would be bid at the same time, McCartt said.

The cycle course would be a separate project and would be built next year, while the pedestrian bridge would probably trail a year behind the construction of the road and outdoor venue.

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