During a meeting on Thursday, concerns were expressed over a proposal to build a Nashville MLS stadium and related development at The Fairgrounds Nashville.
The week began with Nashville Metro officials unveiling a proposed funding model for a new stadium that would host an MLS expansion franchise. For the financing, 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 John 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.
Along with the stadium, there is a proposal that calls for a development team to enter into a long-term ground lease for mixed-use private development on 10 acres of land at the Fairgrounds. The development team would be led by the Turner family, founders of MarketStreet Enterprises and minority owners in the MLS expansion group. In that scenario, according to officials, tax revenue from the development would into the city’s general fund, not toward the stadium project.
Details of the plan were unveiled Monday, but received further scrutiny during a public comment session on Thursday. During that gathering, some area residents spoke out against using Fairgrounds land for the project. More from The Tennessean:
“I’m a flea market attender, I attend the races, and I’m totally against the soccer field and the greenway because it’s not going to help the regular folks,” sad Bob Blair, 75, who said he lives near the property. “I know they call us ‘It City,’ but I’m not going to pay $46 for a soccer ticket.”
Speakers, some clad in red T-shirts supporting the fairgrounds, gave an earful, making clear their distaste for a plan that would dramatically overhaul the site south of downtown near Wedgewood Avenue and Nolensville Pike.
Several criticized plans to give 10 acres of fairgrounds property to Nashville’s MLS ownership group led by John Ingram for a future mixed-use development, with some calling it a “gift” of public land that shirks the duties of the five-member fair board. A few accused the administration of ramming the project through without doing their homework.
Nashville Metro mayor Megan Barry is reportedly hoping to have Metro Council’s approval of the funding plan by the first week of November, and has previously pledged to keep existing Fairgrounds uses intact. Nashville is attempting to be one of the first two expansion candidates selected by MLS. Under the timeline that was released earlier this week, construction on the stadium would begin late next year and be completed for the 2021 season, meaning that the team–if Nashville is selected by MLS–could play the 2020 season at an alternate venue.
Rendering courtesy HOK.
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