Although Metro Council votes on Tuesday allowed it to move forward, the Nashville MLS stadium plan still has some big hurdles to clear.
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.
On Tuesday, two measures passed their second readings. In a 24-7 vote, the council advanced a proposal that calls for the demolition of existing buildings at the site and the implementation of a $1.75 ticket tax. Meanwhile, a separate 24-9 vote saw the council declare 10 acres adjacent to the stadium as surplus property, part of a proposal to lease the site to the John Ingram-led MLS group for a mixed-use development.
It was anticipated that those ordinances would probably clear their second readings, but the MLS stadium proposal faces some challenges ahead of September 4. On the third reading, the ordinance to demolish existing buildings will need to meet a higher threshold for approval–effectively 27 yes votes from the 40-member council–rather than a simple majority. As that vote approaches, it is up to proponents of the project to gain support among the council in order for it to move forward. More from the Tennessean:
That’s when the demolition ordinance needs 27 votes in the 40-member council for final approval. Because it advanced Tuesday with only 24 affirmative votes, Ingram and Mayor David Briley’s administration must pick up backing from a net of three council members.
This will become more challenging because Councilwoman Karen Johnson, who voted for the ordinance, is set to roll off the council after being elected Davidson County Register of Deeds earlier this month.
A large crowd, dominated by critics of the project dressed in red “No MLS” T-shirts, packed the council chambers. Ingram was in attendance as well, sitting in the middle of the gallery surrounded mostly by a sea of red.
Eight members abstained from the vote on the demolition ordinance. The separate ordinance concerning the land for the development had six abstentions. In order to win their support, some officials say that the MLS must group to finalize a community benefits agreement, which it has been negotiating with the organization Stand Up Nashville.
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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