Nashville MLS Stadium Funding Proposal Unveiled

Nashville MLS stadium rendering

A proposed funding model for a Nashville MLS stadium was unveiled on Monday, with the plan calling for a new facility to open in 2021. 

Late last week, it was revealed that the administration of mayor Megan Barry had worked out a preliminary funding plan with John Ingram, the leader of Nashville’s bid for an MLS expansion franchise. That proposal was unveiled on Monday, and it presented details on a potential stadium at The Fairgrounds Nashville.

For the stadium financing, Nashville Metro would issue up to $225 million in revenue bonds for the construction of the 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, Ingram’s group 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.

No agreements were finalized on Monday, and the project has various layers that will need to be discussed, including a bond resolution that could be considered by the council as early as October 17. During the meeting, Barry made her case for the project. More from The Tennessean:

Barry, addressing the council, called her proposal “a more fully realized vision” for the fairgrounds property following Nashville voters’ approval of a 2011 Metro Charter amendment to keep the fairgrounds’ functions intact.

“John Ingram and his fellow investors at MLS2Nashville are committing hundreds of millions of dollars, their own dollars, to secure a franchise, building a stadium and making sure they’re safeguarding taxpayers in the process,” Barry said.

“Make no mistake: This is a tremendous benefit to our city and the community of Nashville,” she said, adding that it will give the city another professional sports team to rally behind. “I think we are absolutely ready for this. Nashville is a soccer city.”

As part of a separate transaction, a development team would agree to a long-term ground lease for mixed-use private development on 10 acres of land at the Faigrounds. The development team would be led by the Turner family, founders of MarketStreet Enterprises. The Turners also have a minority stake in the MLS expansion group.

Nashville is seeking to be one of two expansion bids that joins MLS by 2020. In that case, the team would play its first season at an alternate venue, as construction on the new stadium would not begin until late 2018 for a 2021 opening.

Rendering courtesy HOK Architects. 

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