Sports consultant hired to evaluate General Shale property

Matthew Lane • Nov 27, 2017 at 8:00 AM

KINGSPORT — The city has hired a consultant specializing in sports tourism to take a look at the old General Shale property and come up with suggestions on the best amenities that could go on the site.

The consultant is Don Schumacher, with DSA Sports, who specializes in sports marketing, facilities consultation, family entertainment, theme park and arena marketing and operations.

Schumacher has contracted with the Model City three times in the past dating back to 1999. He did a study that resulted in an expanded Domtar Park and the creation of Eastman Park, and he did work associated with the Kingsport Aquatic Center and the city’s existing sports facilities.

“He’s very familiar with Kingsport, the area and our facilities,” said Jud Teague, executive director of Visit Kingsport.

The General Shale property

Kingsport purchased 14 acres from General Shale back in August. The property is located off Industry Drive directly across from Brickyard Park. For more than a year, city officials have discussed using a portion of the site as a large outdoor venue for events like concerts and performances.

The outdoor venue was one of the biggest ideas to come out of the One Kingsport summit.

One conceptual plan for the property shows an outdoor venue (basically 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. On the north side of the property are an extended Martin Luther King Jr. Drive and a pedestrian bridge over the railroad tracks near Cherokee Street.

Schumacher’s assignment

The consultant will mainly be looking at the business side of developing the property, evaluating direct and indirect revenue and comparing it with similar facilities across the country.

“We’ve asked him to look at the overall property and give us some ideas and options about what would be the best usage practices for the property,” Teague said. “Whether it’s baseball fields, open air, soccer fields, cross-country trails or walking trails ... and if there’s an opportunity to do any mixed usage.”

Schumacher’s contract is for $25,000 and was paid for by the city. He came to Kingsport at the end of October and is expected to submit a draft report to the Board of Mayor and Aldermen in early December. A full presentation will likely take place after the first of the year, Teague said.

Additional facilities

Kingsport opened Brickyard Park in 2015. The facility has four baseball fields in a wagon-wheel layout, with room for a potential fifth field. Four more fields could easily go on the vacant property Kingsport owns, and, according to Teague, the city is still in need of additional diamonds at certain times of the year.

“I’ve got a guy who says we could use them every weekend and (Visit Kingsport) has a couple of soccer events secured in a contract that once we build the facilities, they’ll move them here,” Teague said. “Now, one of our operators is going to Bristol or Washington County to get fields, so four to six more would help stop the leakage.”

All along, city officials have envisioned an outdoor venue going on a portion of the General Shale property. That’s pretty much a given, Teague said. How big a footprint that venue will have is just one of the things Schumacher will be looking at in his report.