Ron Gobbell keeps eyes fixed on Sounds’ new ballpark

The man behind the Sounds’ new ballpark

One hundred sixty-one days. 23 weeks.

If you bump into Ron Gobbell Friday, there’s a very good chance those are the first words you’ll hear the Nashville architect say.

These days, Gobbell’s life is defined by time.

He’s on a clock. An “insane one,” he admits.

As the president of Gobbell Hays Partners Inc., Gobbell is the project manager overseeing the construction of First Tennessee Park, the new home of the Nashville Sounds.

The construction site has some personal meaning to him. As a child in the 1960s, he and his family would travel 100 miles from their Waynesboro home to Nashville to watch baseball games at Sulphur Dell, the same location where the ballpark is being constructed.

He now lives just a few blocks from the site and plans to walk to games.

Gobbell freely admits that he’s not a “fanatical baseball fan,” but relishes the role that the city has entrusted him.

“With a project as complicated as a ballpark, Ron has done an outstanding job coordinating all the moving pieces with his eye always on the April 2015 opening date,” Mayor Karl Dean said.

The first pitch at the new ballpark is scheduled for 7:05 p.m. April 17; that’s approximately 3,860 hours away.

And Gobbell says the hundreds of construction workers will need every one of them. A detailed itinerary is posted inside the construction trailer at the site. It’s imperative that no deadline is missed.

He says he has only two major concerns: “Surprises and (bad) weather.”

The site has already offered its share of surprises. Upon excavating more than 80,000 cubic yards of soil from the site, Native American artifacts were unearthed, causing a construction delay in May. Later, excavators found rubble from a old hotel that was buried on the site.

With the 220 caissons grounded, Gobbell does not expect more underground surprises.

However, he’s worried about what surprises Mother Nature will offer in the coming months.

“If we get a lot of rain in January and February, it would be a problem,” he says, “Because there is no Plan B. Whether all of the landscaping is totally complete (by Opening Day), that will depend on the weather.”