Nashville SC stadium deal approved, for second time

The stadium construction contract for Major League Soccer (MLS) franchise Nashville SC’s new home has been approved for a second time after the Metro Sports Authority was forced to hold another vote on the deal.

A judge last month ruled that the Metro Sports Authority must reapprove the construction contract after it was deemed to violate the Open Meetings Act. Chancellor Ellen Lyle ruled that the group’s contract with Mortenson/Messer Construction Company was invalid after a 2018 meeting to approve the deal did not receive adequate public notice.

The Authority yesterday (Thursday) held another vote, with all eight directors voting in favour of the $167.5m (£133.7m/€146.5m) contract. The Tennessean newspaper said two hours of talks before the vote touched on the recent issues faced by Mortenson.

The company this month settled with the Colorado Attorney General’s Office over a bid-rigging investigation connected to its contract to build the Denver Convention Center. Questions were reportedly raised over whether this should be considered when approving the Nashville SC deal.

The Nashville SC project manager representing the Sports Authority, Ron Gobbell, said: “Any time you hear about this with a construction contractor that you’re working with, you want to explore what happened. We’re just in the process of doing that. But right now there’s no evidence that that would be the case. And I think the key is, is that without some kind of legal issue, in that aspect of it. I’m not sure what all we can do.”

Nashville SC’s ownership group and Mayor John Cooper reached a deal in February that will eliminate taxpayer and budget burden for stadium construction. Cooper had stalled since October on approving the demolition of the old fairground expo centres, a necessary measure for the stadium to be erected.

Nashville SC entered MLS this year and is playing at Nissan Stadium, home of the Tennessee Titans NFL team, before moving to its new soccer-specific stadium. At a capacity of 30,500, it will be the largest soccer-specific stadium in the League.

Nashville SC last week issued its first weekly update on the project, including images of progress at the site. The demolition phase is complete and Gobbell yesterday said Mortenson has begun preparing for construction, which is expected to be complete for the 2022 MLS season.

He added: “Mortenson is in the process of setting up job trailers, fencing and erosion control in preparation for major earthwork. We’re just really getting into the hard construction process. We’re completing the pre-construction phase that is identified in the contract.”

Images: Nashville SC