Metro Council OKs plan to fund new stadium on first reading

Metro Council passed on first reading the plans to build an indoor football stadium for the Tennessee Titans.
Published: Mar. 7, 2023 at 7:56 PM CST
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NASHVILLE, Tenn. (WSMV) - Metro Council approved on first reading to approve a funding agreement for a new indoor football stadium for the Tennessee Titans.

Mayor John Cooper said the proposed agreement, if approved by the Metro Council, will “relieve the existing enormous unfunded financial burden on the city, return 60 acres of land back to city control, and keep the Titans in Nashville for the long term.”

The motion was approved by a voice vote. Several councilmembers did vote against approval.

“I am proud to be a co-sponsor of the legislation because I am proud of how well this agreement is structured to directly benefit the property taxpayers of Davidson County. I’m glad to see the legislation approved on first reading and move us closer to a long-term solution. There have been 33 public meetings concerning the new stadium. The one-meeting deferral we voted for tonight will give us six weeks and more than enough time to review the documents and ask any final questions we have about this proposal,” Councilman Zach Young, one of the bill’s sponsors, said in a statement. “I also support Councilmember (Nancy) VanReece’s efforts to create a Nashville Needs Impact Fund from the tens of millions of dollars that will be generated every year from new development in and around the stadium. This Fund will help Council address Nashville’s most pressing needs by targeting the millions of dollars in new tax revenue generated by the new development around the stadium across the entire County. I appreciate her working so hard on this concept and the team’s support of the creation of this important Fund.”

The proposal is the final product of feedback from Metro Council members and Nashville residents and business owners, according to the Mayor’s office.

The adjustments to the final proposal include:

  • In the original framework, the Titans agreed to cover the infrastructure required to open the new stadium as part of the overall project budget, for which the Titans are ultimately responsible for cost overruns. The final agreement adds additional infrastructure included in the project scope of what the Titans will be covering, including funding towards parts of the street and plaza infrastructure.
  • Excess revenue generated by the sources used to repay Sports Authority bonds may now be used to fund additional debt service reserves or to prepay portions of the bonds early, reducing interest costs paid and potentially saving millions of dollars.
  • In the term sheet, Metro was responsible for capital expenses to keep Nissan Stadium functional until the new enclosed stadium opens without limits. In the final agreement, the team agrees to front these costs, with Metro reimbursing the team up to $42 million through sources such as cash on hand at the Sports Authority and sales taxes generated by PSL sales. Metro’s maximum exposure is capped at that amount.
  • The creation of the Nashville Needs Impact Fund, which the Titans will make annual payments over the term of the lease totaling at least $47 million, to be used by nonprofits serving Nashville and Davidson County for public education, public transit, gender equity in sports, and affordable housing. This provision is aimed to fulfill amendment F in RS2022-1827, the term sheet resolution passed in December.

The Council approved the bill and deferred the second reading until April 4. Bills before Metro Council must be passed on three readings before being sent to Mayor Cooper for his signature.