Councilwoman Proposing Higher Nashville MLS Stadium Ticket Tax

Nashville MLS stadium rendering

Nashville Metro councilwoman is proposing a higher Nashville MLS stadium ticket tax, calling for it to be the highest allowed under Tennessee law. 

After considerable debate, the Nashville Metro Council voted in September to approved three ordinances and a resolution concerning a new stadium at The Fairgrounds Nashville, putting together the elements of the plan in final format. The new stadium will open in 2021 for a Nashville MLS expansion franchise that is backed by a group led by John Ingram. As part of that agreement, a ticket tax is supposed to act as one of the sources that helps pay off debt Nashville Metro’s annual debt from the $275 million project. The tax will start at $1.75 for the first five years, and move up to $2.25 starting in the stadium’s sixth year.

However, councilwoman Angie Henderson is now pushing a proposal that would increase the tax to 10 percent of the ticket cost–the highest allowed under state law–with revenue evenly split between paying off stadium debt and capital improvements. Henderson was critical of the stadium agreement, and has argued that the increase in ticket tax is needed to prevent shortfalls that could occur otherwise. The Nashville MLS group is criticizing this effort, however, as it claims that Henderson is floating this proposal too late in the process. More from The Tennessean:

The Ingram-led ownership group has committed to pay $9 million annually, leaving the ticket tax and sales tax collections covering the remaining $4 million. However, Metro would be on the hook if those revenues fall short. Any shortfall would be covered by Metro’s general fund.

“That is unacceptable to me,” Henderson said. “The deal should not be structured in that way. The ticket tax needs to ensure that we’re not having a shortfall.”

Henderson, who represents parts of Forrest Hills and Green Hills, was one of eight council members who voted against a proposal last month to demolish and rebuild existing facilities at the fairgrounds to make way for the stadium….

“The process to build the stadium is now underway and we look forward to playing there in 2021,” [team ownership spokesman Zach] Hunt said. “Frankly, this bill seems like an unfortunate and late attempt, by a council member who opposed bringing MLS to Nashville, to change a deal that her council colleagues worked very hard to get right before passing.”

Henderson’s proposal has not been approved. It is scheduled to be discussed by the council in a second vote on October 16, and requires three votes.

Construction on the new stadium is scheduled to begin in 2019, with the facility expected to open in 2021. The Nashville MLS expansion club will begin play in 2020, and is seeking a home venue for that season.

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