Development Proposal at Nashville MLS Stadium Raising Questions

Nashville MLS stadium rendering

Nashville Metro council member has expressed his concerns over a proposal for development at a 10-acre site near a proposed Nashville MLS Stadium

Nashville Metro officials have been debating a plan for a new stadium that, if approved, would be constructed on land at The Faigrounds Nashville to host an MLS expansion franchise. The financial plan was recently revealed, calling for a public-private partnership involving Nashville Metro and a group led by John Ingram.

Nashville Metro would issue up to $225 million in revenue bonds for the construction of a 27,500-seat stadium. It would also provide land for the project, and borrow $25 million in general obligation bonds to pay for infrastructure upgrades at the site. Meanwhile, the ownership group led by Ingram would commit a $25-million cash payment, and pay $9 million annually to the Metro Sports Authority over a 30-year lease. That would cover some of Metro’s expected $13 million in yearly debt on the stadium, with the remaining $4 million covered by sales tax revenue generated by the facility, and a $1.75 tax would be added to every ticket that was sold.

While the stadium is continuing to be dated, the proposal for development on 10 acres at the Fairgrounds is also drawing some questions from officials. In that scenario, Nashville Metro would enter into a long-term ground lease for mixed-use private development. The development team would be led by the Turner family, founders of MarketStreet Enterprises and minority owners in the MLS expansion group.

In a recent post on his website, Nashville Metro councilman Bob Mendes weighed in with his thoughts on the stadium and development proposal. Mendes explained that, for now, he views the development plan as a “non-starter:”

For now at least, I think the 10 acres of Fairgrounds land for private mixed use development is a non-starter. It doesn’t feel right. Even if we were going to think about that, I would need to know what the land will be worth after any zoning changes. Without that, there is no way to decide how it fits economically in the deal. (Also, I am going to predict that the “underutilized land” given to the team owners would end up being multiple corners around the “Supporter March” intersection shown on the drawings…think 3 or 4 corners with bars and restaurants at street level with housing above.

As it stands, the ownership group led by Ingram is expressing why it believes the development plan is crucial to the project, citing its role in making a project work. Meanwhile, a spokesman for mayor Megan Barry says that the administration is committed to working with councilmembers. More from The Tennessean:

“The private development component is a key piece of the overall stadium plan,” Clint Brewer, a spokesman for Ingram’s MLS2Nashville, said in a statement. “The development will provide amenities that enhance the fan experience in a way that is critical to a successful MLS franchise.

“The plan is 90 percent financed by private dollars, and the ownership group is making a significant financial investment in Nashville. The development piece is key to making the site work for this project.”

The Tennessean reported last week that, in a shift from previous plans, the mayor’s office has now agreed to earmark a “significant portion” of future tax revenue generated by the 10-acre private development to go exclusively to fairgrounds improvements.

Sean Braisted, spokesman for Barry, said the mayor’s office is committed to working with and hearing from the entire council on the project. He said the altered plans about the future tax revenue came after consultation with various stakeholders, including fairgrounds advocates .

The ownership group would have the right to profit from the development. The stadium itself is slated for 8 acres of land.

Rendering courtesy HOK. 

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