The Tennessee Titans NFL team has agreed terms with Nashville and Davidson County Mayor John Cooper for a new enclosed stadium that will cost up to $2.2bn (£1.94bn/€2.23bn).
The Titans said that the deal would relieve a nearly $2bn burden on taxpayers by voiding the team’s current lease agreement to play at Nissan Stadium (pictured). That lease deal, signed in 1996, legally obligates Nashville to provide a “first-class” stadium for the Titans until 2039.
Cooper’s office has worked with Metro Council to hire Venue Solutions Group, an independent public facility consulting firm, to assess the condition of Nissan Stadium and estimate the council’s financial obligation to the Titans.
VSG has estimated that renovating and maintaining Nissan Stadium would cost between $1.75bn and $1.95bn over the remaining 17 years of the lease deal. Cooper has subsequently pursued other options to shift the cost off the general fund and after months of negotiations, terms have now been agreed for a new stadium in Nashville.
The new stadium will be built at no cost to the city’s general fund and the Titans said the domed facility will unlock two new revenue streams for the team – investments from the state and the hospitality industry.
The Titans have agreed to waive $32m of outstanding bills owed by the city for construction and maintenance performed on Nissan Stadium over the past four years. The team has also agreed to pay off the remaining $30m in bonds owed on Nissan Stadium.
The new stadium, which would have a capacity of around 60,000, would be built directly east of Nissan Stadium on land that is currently parking lots. Under the proposal, Metro Council would regain control of over 66 acres of land, including the existing Nissan Stadium site.
The Titans, the NFL and personal seat license sales will provide $840m in funding for the stadium, with $500m to come from the one-time state contribution. The remaining $760m will come from revenue bonds issued by the Metro Sports Authority to be repaid through revenue streams such as tourism.
Cooper said: “This new stadium proposal protects Metro taxpayers by not spending a single dollar that could be spent elsewhere on our core priorities like education and public safety. Doing nothing was not a legal option for us, and renovating the current stadium proved to be financially irresponsible, so we are proposing a new stadium paid for by the team, the state, tourists and spending around the stadium – not by your family.”
Titans president and chief executive Burke Nihill added: “Nashville’s new stadium will be a game-changer for the community, enhancing the national and international reputation of our great city and state and delivering world-class events to our doorstep that we could never have dreamed of 25 years ago.
“We couldn’t be more appreciative of Mayor Cooper’s commitment to prioritising the taxpayers of Nashville and his vision for a bold future on the East Bank. We look forward to the discussion of these terms with Metro Council and the Sports Authority, and hearing from our neighbours in the community as this process continues.”
Discussing the fan experience plans at the new stadium, Nihill said: “We want it to be a modern experience. Our current facility has served our fans well for a few decades. But there is a better experience that is available by thinking about the diversity of experience. Many of our fans just want to get to the game, park in their seats, and watch the game.
“But what you see around the NFL, the best stadiums allow fans the choice about how they want to attend the game and interact with the stadium. So, that may be a great seat that has a good view of the game and they’re parked there the entire time. And, that may be a social experience. There’s families who want the ability to roam around a little bit with their little ones. We have millennials who would like to have something of a game-long tailgate.
“So, we are trying to build a building and design a building that accommodates a wide range of experiences. We are really, really focused on building a great fan experience, a home-field advantage frankly, through the design of this building and we feel like there are some really great opportunities.”
As well as serving as the home of the Titans, the new stadium will host up to four Tennessee State University games each year. The university will have a dedicated locker room at the stadium and will pay no rent as part of the deal.
The stadium deal will now be reviewed by the Sports Authority and other agencies, with Nihill hoping that the project will be “completely finalised and approved” within months. Nihill added that the stadium will be similar in design and experience to Allegiant Stadium, home of the Las Vegas Raiders, due to its translucent roof.
VSG will provide a full report on its findings to Metro Council by November 1. The new stadium lease will run for a minimum of 30 years and it is hoped the Titans could move into their new home by the 2026 season.
Earlier this year, the Titans confirmed that they were working with Manica Architecture, which also designed Allegiant Stadium, on “conceptual planning” for their new stadium. The Titans had previously worked with architecture firm Gensler on planned upgrades for Nissan Stadium before pursuing plans for a new home.