Councilman Pushes for Harder Vote Threshold for Nashville MLS Plan

Nashville MLS stadium rendering

With a pivotal vote approaching, legislation from a Nashville Metro councilmember could make it harder for a Nashville MLS stadium plan to pass.  

On November 7, the Nashville Metro Council is expected to vote on a $225 million bond resolution for a proposed stadium. If the resolution receives majority approval from the 40-member council in a one-time vote, it will put Nashville one step closer to building a new soccer-specific stadium at The Fairgrounds Nashville that would house a Nashville MLS expansion franchise.

Leading up to that vote, at-large councilman John Cooper is introducing legislation that would move up the time frame for the council’s vote on a demolition ordinance. It has been revealed that existing buildings at the Fairgrounds would need to be demolished as part of the stadium project, but the administration of mayor Megan Barry has been planning to move forward with a demolition ordinance after MLS announces its expansion decision in December.

In contrast to the bond vote, the demolition ordinance calls for three council votes and 27 members have to approve in order for it to move forward.  Cooper, to this point a critic of the stadium proposal, contends that the administration should be asking the council to approve demolition before bringing funding up for consideration. A spokesman for the mayor, however, says that the administration does not believe a demolition ordinance should move forward until later in the process. More from The Tennessean:

“Since the plan cannot work without demolition, the council must consider the demolition question first, and the charter’s 27-vote rule must govern,” he said. “The voters have already spoken.”

Cooper went on to cite a 10-acre private mixed-use development tied to the stadium proposal that continues to face strong pushback from some council members. He said it was fear of this sort of land deal to private developers that “voters were concerned about when they voted for this Charter amendment.”

The demolition ordinance is up for a procedural first of three votes at the council on Tuesday, the same night the bond resolution will be considered.

In opposing the bill, [Sean] Braisted argued it it would give Metro “carte blanche authority” to demolish all buildings at the fairgrounds, including the auto-racing speedway — “which we do not think is appropriate or advisable.”

“Instead, at the appropriate time, we would seek Metro Council approval of the demolition of specific buildings on the site so that councilmembers and fairgrounds supporters know exactly what was being proposed,” Braisted said. “This would not happen until more specific stadium designs and a plan for reconstructing fair and expo facilities is in place.”

The higher threshold needed for a demolition ordinance was approved by voters in a 2011 referendum. Along with the stadium, Nashville officials continue to debate a proposal to enter into a 99-year lease for mixed-used development on 10 acres at the Fairgounds site. The development would be led by the Turner Family, founders of MarketStreet Enterprises and minority owners in the MLS expansion group that is headed by John Ingram.

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