Mayor John Cooper has filed legislation for a proposed final agreement with the Tennessee Titans and the state of Tennessee to construct a new, enclosed stadium. It will relieve the existing enormous unfunded financial burden on the city, return over 60 acres of land surrounding the current Titans stadium back to city control, and keep the Titans in Nashville for the long-term.
The agreement serves as the launching pad to channel future development on Nashville’s East Bank into the kind of neighborhood that serves all residents, transforming land currently used as surface parking lots into a large park, greenways, affordable housing, a multi-modal boulevard, local businesses and more.
“I’m proud of this deal because it eliminates the enormous liability hanging over the city and returns valuable land back to Metro so we can build new affordable housing, beautiful parks and greenways, a powerful transit hub that reconnects neighborhoods and so much more,” said Mayor John Cooper. “We took on this complex and decade-old problem of the old stadium lease and fixed it, refusing to pass the buck to the next administration, and came out on the other side with a more fiscally responsible deal for taxpayers and a future world-class city asset. This is a win for Nashville, and I’m grateful to our partners at the state and the entire team who has worked tirelessly for over a year to get it done.”
“We are extremely appreciative of the efforts of Mayor Cooper and his office over the past several months as we worked to complete definitive documents,” said Burke Nihill, Titans president/CEO. “We believe these documents embody the core principles we presented in December and look forward to our upcoming discussions with Metro Council and the Sports Authority.”
On December 21, Metro Council voted by a two-thirds margin to approve the framework where football-related funding sources including the Titans, the NFL, and personal seat license (PSL) sales will combine to represent the largest source of funding for the new stadium. At least $840 million for the new stadium and any construction cost overruns will come from the Titans, NFL, and PSL sales. Five hundred million dollars will come from a one-time state contribution. The remaining $760 million will come from revenue bonds issued by the Metro Sports Authority to be repaid by revenue generated primarily by hotel visitors and users of the new stadium. Both revenue sources designated by state statute for the Sports Authority bonds can only be used to fund stadium-related construction and maintenance, and in the case of the hotel tax contingent upon the building of a new, enclosed stadium.
The proposed final agreement incorporates feedback received from community leaders, council members and Nashville residents. Enhancements to the proposed final agreement include the following:
In the original framework, the Titans agreed to cover the infrastructure required to open the new stadium as part of the overall project budget, for which the Titans are ultimately responsible for cost overruns. The final agreement adds additional infrastructure included in the project scope of what the Titans will be covering, including funding towards parts of the street and plaza infrastructure.
Excess revenue generated by the sources used to repay Sports Authority bonds may now be used to fund additional debt service reserves or to prepay portions of the bonds early, reducing interest costs paid and potentially saving millions of dollars.
In the term sheet, Metro was responsible for capital expenses to keep Nissan Stadium functional until the new enclosed stadium opens without limits. In the final agreement, the team agrees to front these costs, with Metro reimbursing the team up to $42 million through sources such as cash on hand at the Sports Authority and sales taxes generated by PSL sales. Metro’s maximum exposure is capped at that amount.
The creation of the Nashville Needs Impact Fund, which the Titans will make annual payments over the term of the lease totaling at least $47 million, to be used by nonprofits serving Nashville and Davidson County for public education, public transit, gender equity in sports and affordable housing. This provision is aimed to fulfill amendment F in RS2022-1827, the term sheet resolution passed in December.
Local activist group, Stand Up Nashville, is calling for a ‘no’ vote until they have more information.
“Nashville loves the Titans, and as a city we want the franchise to feel our appreciation. But the city also has an obligation to prioritize what’s best for our residents before wasting billions of our hard-working residents’ tax dollars,” said the group in a release.
“We know the needs of Nashville. It hasn’t changed in the past 13 years. Nashville needs affordable housing, adequately funded public schools, better transit, and jobs that pay a living wage ($20 per hour) that don’t require a degree or specialized training.
“We have been down this road too many times before with Amazon, Alliance Bernstein, Oracle, and now the Titans. We absolutely know what happens when we prioritize big business over the needs of the majority of Nashville residents: Gentrification, underfunded schools, majority White urban core, and more infiltration and takeover of a progressive city by conservative interests.”
The proposal is expected to go before the Council on March 7.