Metro Council Committee Backs Nashville MLS Stadium Financing

Nashville MLS stadium rendering

In what is viewed as a crucial endorsement, a Nashville Metro Council committee has backed the financing plan for a Nashville MLS stadium

There has been a significant amount of attention paid to the developments in Nashville, where the council is set vote Tuesday on a $225 million bond resolution for a stadium at The Fairgrounds Nashville. If that measure is approved, it could bolster Nashville’s case for a franchise as MLS approaches a December announcement regarding expansion.

As part of an action that is not binding, the Nashville Metro Council’s Budget and Finance Committee considered the issue on Monday. The committee ultimately voted 10-3 to endorse the plan, which is viewed as a key decision leading up to Tuesday’s vote from the full 40-member council. More from The Tennessean:

Councilwoman Tanaka Vercher, the committee’s chairwoman, voted for the resolution after previously raising questions about some aspects of the deal. She called the final plan a “fair and balanced” proposal after the addition of some new amendments that were negotiated over the weekend.

“It’s not the perfect deal, but I can live with it,” Vercher said, adding that her holdup has never been about bringing MLS to Nashville but some of the “fine details” of the arrangement.

“Overall, it’s incredible for the city,” she said. “It’s a huge opportunity.”

Council members John Cooper, Angie Henderson and Steve Glover voted against the bond resolution. Council members Erica Gilmore and Jacobia Dowell, members of the 15-member Budget and Finance Committee, were present for Monday’s meeting but did not cast a vote.

The financing proposal calls for Nashville Metro to 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. 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. The ticket tax would increase over time.

In addition, there is a proposal for Nashville to enter into a 99-year lease that would lead to a mixed-use development on 10 acres of Fairgrounds land. The development would be led by the Turner Family, founders of MarketStreet Enterprises and minority owners in the MLS expansion group.

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