NASHVILLE, TN (WSMV) - Nashville SC and Major League Soccer expressed disappointment in the progress of a planned soccer stadium at The Fairgrounds Nashville.
Mayor John Cooper, Nashville SC leaders and MLS Commissioner Don Gerber met on Thursday in New York to discuss the status of the stadium project.
“Earlier today, we met with Mayor John Cooper at Major League Soccer’s office in New York City to discuss the status of Nashville SC’s stadium project. The new stadium and ancillary development have very broad support throughout Nashville and has been overwhelmingly approved multiple times by Metro Council,” the team said in a news release.
Cooper has not signed off on the demolition of building so the project can move forward.
“For the past four months, Nashville SC has worked to make the stadium deal even better and has proposed a number of new solutions to satisfy his concerns,” the team said in the news release.
“Even with these proposed new solutions, the Mayor today refused to commit to move forward with the demolition and the approved stadium plan. During today’s meeting, MLS Commissioner Don Garber made it clear to Mayor Cooper that Major League Soccer would not have awarded Nashville an expansion team without the commitment made by the city to build a soccer stadium at the Fairgrounds. The Mayor’s continued refusal to proceed is a deep disappointment to Nashville SC and MLS.”
Nashville SC played its first preseason scrimmage on Thursday against Swedish top tier IF Elfsborg in Florida. Nashville SC will play its inaugural game on Feb. 29 at Nissan Stadium. The team will play at Nissan Stadium until the soccer stadium is complete, hopefully in time for the 2022 season.
According to the news release, Nashville SC has agreed to work with the Mayor’s office over the next week to advance the discussions and finalize a plan to begin the stadium construction project.
“We hope for a mutually agreeable solution and expect to have an update regarding the project by February 6,” the team said in the news release.
Cooper issued a statement regarding soccer site negotiations late Thursday afternoon:
“Since entering office four months ago, I’ve worked towards a complete solution for the Fairgrounds that is both financially sustainable and results in a successful, unified site plan. This past week, I met with racing advocates as well as MLS. I appreciate MLS and its advocacy for professional soccer in Nashville. I also appreciate all parties are working together to improve the plan for the entire Fairground, both in design and financing. I will continue to chart a path forward that makes good financial sense for all of Nashville’s taxpayers.”
The meeting came on the same day a Nashville judge heard motions in a lawsuit filed to stop stadium construction.
The lawsuit filed by the group Save Our Fairgrounds may not go to trial until mid-October. The group said on Thursday it wants to take depositions from more witnesses.
The board of the Nashville Flea Market Vendors Association thanked Mayor Cooper for his actions:
The board of The Nashville Flea Market Vendors Association thanks you for standing strong for the citizens of Davidson County. It is worth noting, the legality of the legislation approving the demolition of the Fairgrounds buildings is involved in an ongoing lawsuit. When the Stadium and Mixed-Use Development are found to be in violation of the Metro Charter, all legislation surrounding the project will be void; including the vote to demolish Fairgrounds buildings.
Tearing down millions of dollars in Fairgrounds assets and then finding out the project is unlawful would further harm the Fairgrounds ability to produce events and generate revenue for our community when revenue generation is so desperately needed. As our 1st Mayor to take an oath to honor the Metro Charter, we thank you for considering the probable charter violations of the proposal and demanding a hold on demolition until the next stages of the project are ready to go.
The legal fight over the charter requirements needs to be completely adjudicated before destroying any Fairgrounds assets.Thank you again for your strong leadership.
The Nashville Flea Market Vendors Association.
An attorney for Metro called it a stalling tactic. Nashville SC will play the 2020 and 2021 seasons at Nissan Stadium.
Cooper has held off on the project while the city figures out how much it will really cost and the city is waiting for the outcome of the lawsuit.
The judge said she would rule on Thursday’s motions by Tuesday or Wednesday of next week. These results of the rulings will impact whether there will be a trial in October and how it will impact the stadium opening in time for the 2022 season.