In a move that could cinch an expansion team before the end of the year, the Metro Council approved $225 million in bonding for a new Nashville MLS stadium at the city’s Fairgrounds site.
It was the final step in city approval for a plan to build the new Nashville MLS stadium and attract private investment as part of a larger development. The vote was not close — 31-6 — and it was portrayed by lead team owner John Ingram and Mayor Megan Barry as an economic-development issue on par with city money spent on Nissan Stadium. Bridgestone Arena and First Tennessee Park. From The Tennessean:
“As stadium deals go, this really is a standard-bearer of those,” said Councilman Russ Pulley, who voted for the resolution. “When you look at Nissan Stadium, you look at Bridgestone Arena and you look at First Tennessee Park, this deal is much better for us.”…
“The Metro Council should be applauded for joining the majority of Nashvillians who say YES to Major League Soccer in Nashville,” Barry said in a written statement. “Their vote tonight puts Nashville in a very strong position to be awarded a franchise later this year by MLS.
“Thank you to John Ingram and the MLS to Nashville committee who have worked tirelessly over the last year to make this night possible for soccer supporters all across the Nashville area.”
Metro passed the legislation that had been approved by other government bodies in recent years, but with two changes that added protections for the city: the MLS team owners will cover potential construction and infrastructure cost overruns. Otherwise, the proposal passed with some controversial provisions, including 10 acres of Fairgrounds land made available to the Ingram group for development. The MLS team owners will pay $25 million up front towards stadium construction and pay $9 million annually over the next 30 years toward the city’s annual $13 million debt. The city’s share will be repaid with sales and ticket taxes.
The approval of the new Nashville MLS stadium bonding — which is not subject to referendum — puts Nashville near the front of the line to land one of the two expansion teams expected to be announced before the end of the year. Of the cities widely regarded as the front runners (Sacramento, Nashville, Cincinnati and Detroit), only Sacramento and Nashville have solid new-stadium plans in place.
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