|Not every city that builds a new ballpark actually needs one. But in the case of Nashville, one visit to Herschel Greer Stadium and there was no arguing that a new ballpark was needed. It was cramped, outdated, and falling apart, besides being on the outskirts of town. Frankly, it looked like nobody with the team or the city cared what it looked like. Other than the guitar-shaped there was simply nothing memorable about it. So after a decade long struggle, it came as a great relief when in 2013 the city announced a new downtown ballpark for the Sounds. Paying homage to the past, the ballpark would be built on the same site as Sulphur Dell, which was Greer Stadium's predecessor. First Tennessee Park, which opened in 2015, doesn't break any new ground from a structural standpoint, but is obviously a huge improvement over Greer Stadium
- The exterior of Fist Tennessee Park is distinctive and modern looking as it is made of mostly glass and metal, similar to PNC Field.
- The location in the downtown allows for a skyline backdrop, though this may be obscured in the future by the development going on around the ballpark. Right now, there isn't much to do in the immediate area, but this will surely change.
- The distinctive guitar-shaped scoreboard which Greer Stadium was known for has been recreated at the new park. The body of the guitar now features a large video board while the neck displays the line score. Really cool!
- A large bar area called "The Bandbox" is located behind the right field fence. Part of this area features a place where fans can play ping-pong, foosball, and cornhole. The park definitely caters to the twentysomething crowd that is there more to socialize than watch the ballgame.
- The ballpark is extremely roomy. Even with large crowds, it is hard to imagine it ever feel cramped. Concourses are very wide and the outfield offers a place for fans to roam around.
- While I wish there was a bit more history on display, at least there is a large sign on the back of the batter's eye in center field indicating that this was the site of Sulphur Dell.
- A kid's play area is located along the right field concourse. It features a few inflatables, but frankly looks like it was an afterthought.
- The atmosphere was certainly a lively one in 2015 as most of the fans seemed to be into the game. The bar area in right field caters to the younger crowd, so there is a level of "hipness" to the park that was definitely not there at the old park.
- The teams provided free playbill-type programs to the fans as they walk in. Always much appreciated by this fan who likes to keep score!
- The ballpark feels a bit like a construction zone as much of the site is surrounded by chain link fence (though there is a permanent black wrought iron fence around some of it). Surely this will change as surrounding building and parking decks are completed.
- Parking in 2015 is somewhat limited and expensive (most lots are $10). With a parking garage being built beyond the outfield fence, this should improve in future seasons.
- While the ballpark is very spacious, there almost seems to be too much dead space along the concourse. Perhaps they could add some tables so fans could have more places to sit and enjoy their food.
- Like many recently built AAA ballparks, First Tennessee Park features a club area at field level which eats up many prime seats. With luxury boxes also being present, I don't understand the need for this seating area.
- Ticket prices are a bit on the high side for AAA baseball. The top ticket is $35 and most of the seats are $17 or more when purchased on day of game. Clearly Nashville thinks they are a major league city so must feel like they can charge whatever they want for tickets.
- The seating bowl is not as steep as I would like, meaning that sightlines can be obstructed by people sitting in front of you.
- As with many newer ballparks, the history of the team has either been forgotten about or is on display in the club area, which is out of sight from the average fan. Besides the Sulphur Dell sign, the only other history on display is small photos of former Nashville players which appear next to the signs in the concourse.
There is no doubt that First Tennessee Park is fine ballpark and a big step-up from Herschel Greer Stadium, but for some reason I was expecting more and left feeling a bit underwhelmed. Much like its predecessor, the most memorable part of First Tennessee is the guitar-shaped scoreboard. Perhaps part of the problem is that the area around the park hasn't been completed yet, so there really isn't really a sense of place yet. Hopefully this will change once more development is done. Also, I couldn't help but feel like the team was trying to rip fans off with their high ticket and concession prices - they just seem way out of whack with other AAA ballparks. Perhaps if I return for a visit in the future I may feel differently, but after my 2015 visit I simply wasn't overly impressed with First Tennessee Park.
- There are four large concession stands, two on each side of the ballpark. Each has a different name and serves up different food options. One problem with the concession stands is that the menus are posted high on the walls inside and are impossible to see until you are at the registers. Certainly a poor design that needs to get fixed.
- The Smokehouse BBQ stand offers up pulled pork sandwiches, garlic fries, and ridiculously large portions of BBQ nachos.
- The Hot or Not Chicken stand serves up the now popular hot (spicy) chicken that Nashville is apparently known for.
- The Sulphur Dell Slices stand has pizza, wings, and fries available.
- The fourth major concession stand is named "Music City Grill" and offers cheese steaks, garlic fries, and brats.
- A small taco stand is also setup down the right field line. Authentic style chicken and steak tacos are available.
- Concession prices are definitely on the high side. Water and small sodas are $4, 16oz domestic beers are $9.50, and most entrees (sandwiches, chicken, tacos, etc.) are $8 or more.