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Old City Boutique Owner: Stadium is a "Positive for Everybody" 

In this coming month, City Blog will be talking with owners of small businesses near the new multi-use stadium that's under construction.

Many of these stakeholders believe the baseball games, soccer matches and concerts to be held at the new publicly-owned venue starting in 2025 will draw more people and infuse new energy into the Old City and Magnolia Avenue Warehouse District.

Meet the friendly folks at Bethie Lou's Fabulous Gift Store! (Owner Beth MacDonald, right.)

Meet the friendly folks at Bethie Lou's Fabulous Gift Store! (Owner Beth MacDonald, right.)

A new stadium is under construction at the spot where East Knoxville connects with the Old City. By spring 2025, the stadium will be hosting baseball, soccer, concerts and more.

Downtown stadiums are different than many sports arenas. People attending events there tend to explore the neighborhood, eating, drinking and shopping there – before or after the game or concert. 

Beth MacDonald, owner of Bethie Lou’s Fabulous Gift Store, 110 S. Central St., sees the stadium and the buzz it will generate as "a positive for everybody."

Her store offers a range of eclectic gifts – everything from humorous cards, to coasters, to whimsical kitchen tea towels, to home decor. Bethie Lou's also carries books, games and puzzles – and it fronts a main walking route to the stadium, just a few blocks away from its west entrance.

For dog lovers, there is also an opportunity to meet Murphy. He’s the super sweet pup who roams the store.

MacDonald is excited about the stadium because she expects there to be a new flow of potential customers who are not current visitors to the Old City. She also believes that regulars who visit the Old City now will be incredibly receptive to the events hosted by the multi-use stadium.

"There’s gonna be more people in the restaurants," MacDonald says. "There's gonna be more people in the streets and on the sidewalks, walking into the stores."

Although there may be more out-of-state visitors, drawn by the lure of baseball, MacDonald emphasizes that she will not redefine her boutique to cater to tourists. She might stock some humorous items associated with baseball, she says, but the vibe of her small shop is already set.

Entrance to Bethie Lou's, 110 S. Central St.

Interior of Bethie Lou's, 110 S. Central St.

Many business owners in the area – including MacDonald – are concerned about parking. 

There are almost 7,700 existing public parking spaces within a 10-minute walk to the stadium – 15,000 parking spaces in garages and surface lots within a 20-minute walk. But will the spaces closest to Bethie Lou's be in high demand on nights when there's a game or concert around the corner? That's an understandable concern.

"The only negative thing I have to say about the stadium at all is the parking situation," MacDonald says. "Parking is already difficult to find on busy nights in the Old City, and with the introduction of the stadium, finding parking may become tougher."

-Reported by University of Tennessee Haslam College of Business student Georgia Drinnon, a senior majoring in marketing

Interior of Bethie Lou's, 110 S. Central St.



Posted by evreeland On 21 November, 2023 at 4:33 PM