Committee Recommends Disapproval of Nashville MLS Stadium Ordinances

Nashville MLS stadium rendering

During a meeting on Monday, a council committee recommended the disapproval of two Nashville MLS stadium ordinances that are crucial to the project moving forward. 

In order for the proposed MLS stadium at The Faigrounds Nashville to become a reality, several pieces of legislation will require the approval of the Nashville Metro Council. Mayor David Briley’s administration is working to have those measures approved by September 4, making the coming weeks a crucial stretch for a proposed facility that is slated to be home to a Nashville MLS expansion club.

Two pieces of legislation were recommended for disapproval by the Metro Council’s Budget and Finance Committee in votes on Monday. Those decisions included a 7-5 vote concerning an ordinance that calls for the demolition of existing buildings at the site and the implementation of a $1.75 ticket tax, plus a separate 6-5 vote regarding a ground lease with the John Ingram-led MLS group for a mixed-use development adjacent to the stadium. In the short run, these nonbinding votes might not have much of an effect on whether the ordinances pass their second readings, but it remains to be seen whether they foreshadow opposition during a third and final reading expected on September 4. More from the Tennessean:

The votes, although nonbinding, come as the full council is set Tuesday to take up the proposals on a second of three required readings. The council is slated to vote on a proposed rezoning for the private development next Monday, when a public hearing will be held.

The committee is stacked with several of the council’s most ardent stadium critics, meaning its action might not be a completeli accurate preview of Tuesday’s full council vote.

Still, while many observers believe the project has enough support on second reading, there’s major doubt whether the same is true on a scheduled third vote on Sept. 4. That’s when the demolition and ticket tax ordinance would need 27 votes in the 40-member council for passage rather than the simple majority that is required on second reading.

Several council members are holding off their support as the Ingram-led ownership group continues to negotiate a community benefits agreement with a group of stakeholders and labor organizations called Stand Up Nashville.

The concept for a new Nashville MLS stadium has called for the facility to be constructed at The Fairgrounds Nashville, with the club backed by an investor group led by John Ingram. Along with the stadium, the project would include an adjacent 10-acre mixed-use development that would be led by the MLS group.

Last November, the Metro Council approved $225 million in bonding for a new MLS stadium at The Fairgrounds Nashville. That was a major accomplishment for the Nashville MLS expansion bid, and ultimately played a part in the league’s approval of Nashville’s pitch in December. However, the issuing of those bonds is contingent upon the completion of several stadium-related agreements that still need to be finalized. Briley’s administration has filed those four pieces of legislation with the council–including the lease for the development, the demolition of existing buildings on the stadium site along with the implementation of a $1.75 ticket tax, rezoning for the development, and $50 million in general obligation bonds for related expenses such as infrastructure improvements and new fairgrounds buildings.

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