MILWAUKEE -- Brewers officials expressed cautious optimism Friday after Nashville Mayor Karl Dean announced an agreement between the state of Tennessee, the Triple-A Nashville Sounds and a developer to construct a new ballpark for Milwaukee's top Minor League affiliate.
The plan still requires approval by the Nashville City Council and the Nashville Sports Authority, according to several news reports. If all of the relevant agreements can be finalized before the end of this year, the Sounds could be playing in their new home by 2015.
The Brewers have been optimistic before. When the club signed a player-development contract (PDC) with the Sounds in 2005, a similar plan was in the works for a ballpark on the banks of the Cumberland River, but it never materialized. In the meantime, the Brewers pushed for improvements to aging Greer Stadium, which opened in 1978.
"From what I understand, there seems to me much better cooperation between the various levels of government this time than there was the last, and the new Sounds ownership group led by Frank Ward has done a tremendous job in ensuring that they took it step by step," Brewers assistant general manager Gord Ash said. "There is a much different tone to this discussion than there was seven or eight years ago."
The Brewers' current PDC with the Sounds runs through the end of 2014.
"We've always said that we're thrilled with Nashville as a destination, that it's geographically sound for us and a well-rounded town with a lot of life and entertainment," Ash said. "The only thing missing was a ballpark of Triple-A caliber. Hopefully, we can have a long-term partnership."
The new ballpark would be located north of downtown in Sulphur Dell, the site of a stadium famous for a right-field embankment. That ballpark was in use from 1870 until it was demolished in 1969.
According to Friday's news release, the new stadium would have a recessed field and offer sweeping views of downtown. It would hold 10,000 people, with 8,500 fixed seats. A new 1,000-space car lot would be constructed just south of the ballpark, and a new greenway would offer easy pedestrian access and give the ballpark a park-like feel.
"We love being a part of the Nashville community and thank Mayor Dean and [Tennessee Gov. Bill] Haslam for providing leadership on this exciting ballpark proposal," Ward said in a statement. "Greer Stadium has far outlived its useful life, and we can't wait to give Nashvillians a top-notch experience at Sulphur Dell. Our investments, plus those of all our partners, will truly transform this area of North Nashville, and we are thankful for this opportunity."
In other Brewers Minor League news, Ash said that No. 2 prospect Taylor Jungmann was back on track in the Arizona Fall League after missing time with a groin issue. Jungmann surrendered four earned runs on five hits in 2 1/3 innings for the Surprise Saguaros on Wednesday, his first appearance in nearly a month, and is scheduled to make one final appearance on Tuesday.
"He was a little rusty [in his return to action]," Ash said, "but was otherwise OK."