City leaders have questions about Titans’ stadium deal

Council members say it’s not about the renderings but their focus is on the costs of the deals. Costs with infrastructure sales tax and the economic impact.
Published: Oct. 26, 2022 at 7:26 PM CDT
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NASHVILLE, Tenn. (WSMV) - Tennessee Titans fans may be excited after getting a glimpse into what the proposed football stadium would look like, but for some city leaders, it’s less about the look of the stadium and more about the details of the deal.

Specifically, the dollar amounts not fully spelled out in the deal.

When it comes to the renderings of the proposed stadium, some city leaders said this:

“It helps create a visual image,” Councilmember Freddie O’Connell, who represents the downtown area, said.

“Honestly, it looked like to me a monument to misplaced priorities and greed. I’m not impressed. I’m not impressed with the entire proposal,” Councilmember Ginny Welsch, who represents an area of South Nashville.

These city leaders said their focus included how will other costs be paid for, like unknown infrastructure costs.

“Building 2,000 parking spaces, that will probably cost $50 million. That’s taxpayer money,” Welsch said. “Building for all the infrastructure around it, that is a responsibility on Metro. That is going to take tax money to build it. This idea that no tax money is going into it is just a lie.”

“I’m still looking at how we arrive at just kind of accepting the $1.8 billion that the Titans have asserted, how we kind of, over the course of the year, moved from $600 million in upgrades to a $2.2 billion stadium,” O’Connell said. “And frankly what the unknowns still are. There’s still a big infrastructure price tag. There are some things that aren’t in the term sheet that have other companion figure dollars that are there.”

O’Connell said there are still questions about sales tax revenue on the deal including what he said is trying to figure out the capture boundary would be for sales tax dollars.

“Anybody who would be going to, let’s say a restaurant or whatever establishment or East Bank, in that footprint, they’re going there in a capture zone as opposed to if they were on (west) side of the river. It wouldn’t be and those dollars wouldn’t be coming to our general fund,” O’Connell said.

“This might be new tax revenue, but they’re going to be tax revenues that would be directed to paying for this stadium and this stadium alone,” Welsch said.

The stadium is expected to bring in dollars by attracting major events like the Super Bowl. Some city leaders said that’s not really the case.

“Those kind of events, again, they’re one time, they’re one offs,” Welsch said. “They’re not anything that brings continuous revenue to the city. Yeah, it will bring a lot of building and construction jobs, but those jobs end. We’re not getting any benefit from these things in the long run.”

“I personally think it’s great that Nashville has become a successful enough city that we can host those kind of events, but when I am thinking about them, what I’m hearing a lot is, ‘Hey, we’ve done all these great events, why aren’t we seeing the payoff,” O’Connell said. “We’ve got to be able to answer that question too.”

Welsch said she believes the proposal for the stadium will pass on first reading.

“I’m expecting the most people will pass this on first reading because it’s supposed to be non-binding, but I’m not going to be voting for it. I can’t support this,” Welsch said.

First ready on the deal for the proposed Titans stadium is expected to be on the Metro Council agenda on Tuesday night.