Chronological Tour: Stop 376

Baseball Returns to Sulphur Dell

Home plate entrance to First Tennesee Park, Jul-2015.

Sunset behind the ballpark, which faces south-southeast.

The view from behind the plate includes the replacement guitar-shaped scoreboard.

Quick Facts: Rating: 3 baseballs
For close to a century, the Nashville Volunteers played at Sulphur Dell, an area north of the state capitol washed by the Cumberland River not far from the city's Germantown. The tract of land was bordered by Third and Fifth Avenues, Jackson and Harrison Streets.

The Vols ceased operations after the 1963 season and the ballpark was briefly turned into a short-track auto racing facility, as seems to be common with these old places. Eventually, it was torn down and nothing replaced it for a long while. But in 2013, the Nashville Sounds, who had been playing south of here at Greer Stadium since 1978, announced plans to move back to Sulphur Dell. The park opened in 2015, with First Tennessee Bank holding the naming rights.

In May 2015, the Nashville city council agreed to honor native son Junior Gilliam, who played for the Brooklyn and Los Angeles Dodgers, by renaming the two blocks of Jackson Street behind home plate. The park, originally listed at 401 Jackson Street, now has the address 19 Junior Gilliam Drive (Gilliam wore No. 19 with the Dodgers).

Getting to the Game

Two Interstate highways pass within half a mile of the park. The easiest access is from I-24; take exit 47 for Spring Street and head west across the river. This puts you on Jefferson Street. Turn left on 5 Avenue to the park. You can also take I-40 to exit 209 for Charlotte Avenue (US 70), which passes the state capitol. Turn left at Robinson Drive (US 431), which circles below the capitol, and then left on 5 Avenue.

One can park at capitol lots and take shuttles to the park, or one can park at metered spaces in the capitol district and walk over. Meters do not operate after 6 pm weekdays or at all on Sundays.

Watching the Game

Be prepared for sticker shock. While it is possible to buy a general admission ticket for $7, as of 2015 the cheapest infield seats cost $17 on game day, and seats behind the plate go for $26. The team also sells club deck tickets for sections not directly behind the plate, for $32.

Also be careful that you don't get a seat in one of the back rows of the upper deck: it will not be possible to see the scoreboard from these seats. They are not discounted as obstructed view seats, either.

At least the scoreboard works. The new guitar-shaped board that replaced the one at Greer has full video capabilities in the belly of the guitar. The line score continues to appear in the neck, while the area of the tuning knobs is reserved strictly for advertising. The main video area displays the lineup of the team at bat as well as the defensive alignment of the team in the field.

Sadly, this is the only place you'll find the lineup. For the game I attended, the visitors' lineup was announced 34 minutes before game time and not posted anywhere until it appeared on the video board in the top of the first. Rosters, but not lineups, are available at the customer service desk, to the first-base side of home plate.

Enjoying the Game

This is one place where the park scores some points. While most parks have kids' play areas, First Tennessee Park is the first place where I've noticed an adult play area. The Band Box (which sells adult beverages too, of course) features areas where visitors can play table tennis or cornhole (the beanbag toss game). Other games like Jenga are also available to Band Box visitors. The area is open to all of legal age during the game.
Game # Date League Level Result
1389 Mon 27-Jul-2015 Pacific Coast AAA New Orleans 7, NASHVILLE 5
1590 Mon 21-Aug-2017 Pacific Coast AAA NASHVILLE 7, Iowa 0
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This page updated 21-Aug-2017