Nashville, state leaders weigh in on governor’s stadium bond proposal

An undated aerial image of Nissan Stadium, Nashville, Tenn.
An undated aerial image of Nissan Stadium, Nashville, Tenn.(WSMV)
Published: Apr. 1, 2022 at 6:43 PM CDT
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NASHVILLE, Tenn. (WSMV) - Local and state leaders are weighing in on Gov. Bill Lee’s proposal to provide $500 million in general obligation bonds to build a new football stadium.

Mayor John Cooper said Nashville is working with the Titans and the state to ensure football remains in Nashville for decades to come.

“We continue to work hard with our partners at the Titans and at the state to ensure football remains in Nashville for decades to come, while not losing sight of our priorities of investing in education, affordable housing, infrastructure and more to make Nashville work for everyone,” Cooper said in a statement on social media.

Cooper’s statement Friday came after Tennessee House Speaker Cameron Sexton said on a WWTN-FM radio show that the Adams family is willing to spend $700 million on a new facility to replace Nissan Stadium.

The Tennessee Titans said in a statement to News4 on Friday night that any financial plan will involve significant private investment.

“We are all in on committing to our home here in Nashville. While we are still pursuing the best path forward for the stadium, any financing plan will involve significant private investment. We appreciate the collaboration of the State as we continue to investigate all options.”

Sexton told News4 in a statement Thursday night that a new stadium would allow Nashville to start competing with Atlanta, New Orleans and Dallas for events.

“We will perform due diligence on this proposal and make sure the return on investment is positive, not negative,” Sexton said in the statement. “Tennessee is a sales tax-driven economy, with tourism being a significant industry for us. An enclosed stadium that can be used year-round moves a new facility from a football-dominated venue to an entertainment venue. This will enable us to start competing with Atlanta, New Orleans, and Dallas for concerts, Super Bowls, Wrestlemanias, and other world-class events. Tennessee will remain the second lowest taxed state and the least debt state, even if we pass this legislation. Increasing tourism opportunities and having visitors help us pay for our schools, infrastructure, and our unique needs is very beneficial for people all across Tennessee.”

The governor’s proposal required that the new stadium be domed or have a retractable roof so it can host major events year-round.

Titans President Burke Nihill said during a Nashville Sports Authority meeting last month the team initially had plans to renovate the current Nissan Stadium, but the price of the renovation increased to the point that it may be more cost-effective to build a new stadium.

“We are committed to maintaining the priorities from a financing architecture – we do not want the taxpayer today or any day to have any obligation to be funding the NFL facility in town,” Nihill told the Sports Authority.

Nihill said cost estimates in January were almost double what was expected.

He said much of the mechanical, plumbing and electrical systems at the current stadium would likely need to be completely replaced. The concrete structure is also a problem.

Cooper said in a statement a few days after the monthly meeting that the city is “not in the stadium business.”

“We’re in the educating kids business, we’re in a safer street and road business,” Cooper said last month. “The Titans have been a very good partner for Nashville and it’s fun to have them, but fundamentally, the city is not in the entertainment or stadium business itself.”

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