KINGSPORT — Kingsport has selected the General Shale property as the site for its new softball/baseball complex, while the next step will be to firm up a better cost estimate for the project.
When Eastman Chemical Co. announced its $1.6 billion “Project Inspire” reinvestment plan earlier this year, the plan included a new corporate office building on the site of its existing ballfields on Wilcox Drive.
Eastman asked Kingsport to build a replacement complex and incorporate the company’s softball league into the city’s parks and recreation department. In a recent bond issuance, Kingsport earmarked $2.9 million for the project.
Kingsport formed a committee of city staff, Eastman employees and Kingsport Convention and Visitors Bureau officials to develop a plan for how existing city fields would accommodate the old Eastman league and recommend a design and site for the new ballfield complex.
Chris McCartt, assistant to the city manager, gave an update on the project to the Board of Mayor and Aldermen on Monday, saying the committee’s recommendation is to go with the General Shale property off Industry Drive.
The committee kept a number of things in mind when looking at the 17 possible sites, from being able to accommodate a four-field, wagon-wheel design, to proximity to people, retail, restaurants and major employers to its ability to expand with a fifth field at some point in the future.
“We want to replace what we’ve lost, but we don’t want to put ourselves in a position where we could not expand down the road,” McCartt said.
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