Mayor John Cooper has hailed a Council vote on the proposed new stadium for NFL franchise the Tennessee Titans as “an enormous step toward a better future” for Nashville.
The Nashville Metro Council yesterday (Tuesday) voted 27-8 in favour of approving preliminary terms on the stadium deal, while a 27-5 vote backed the introduction of a 1% hotel tax increase to help finance the project, should it go ahead.
While yesterday marked the first significant Council votes on the proposal, The Tennessean newspaper notes that the terms approved are not binding, with negotiations between the city and the Titans continuing.
In a statement, Cooper said: “By getting out of a lease (at Nissan Stadium) that has become a billion-dollar liability, tonight’s vote is an enormous step toward a better future for Nashville’s neighbourhoods and families.
“Metro will now be in a much stronger position to increase the investments in our fundamental neighbourhood priorities – good schools, safe streets, affordable housing, new and improved infrastructure, reliable city services, parks and greenways and more – rather than putting good money after bad in a deteriorating stadium.
“As we move towards the end of negotiations with the Titans, I remain deeply committed to putting Nashville taxpayers first, and I will not compromise on our core principles. This deal is about way more than football. It’s about what’s best for Nashville’s financial future.”
The Titans agreed terms with Nashville and Davidson County Mayor Cooper for a new enclosed stadium back in October. The Titans’ plans cleared another hurdle earlier this month after the Metro Nashville Sports Authority approved the project. The Sports Authority manages Nissan Stadium, the current home of the team.
Meanwhile, NFL owners last week approved a combination of loans and grants worth $200m (£164.9m/€184.9m) for the proposed new stadium. The investment represents 10% of the projected cost for the 60,000-seat venue, which will be enclosed.
The $2.1bn project would include the largest public spending contribution on an NFL stadium to date. While around $840m will be privately funded, through the likes of the team and the $200m NFL contribution, the Metro Sports Authority will contribute $760m through revenue bonds to be paid using methods such as the hotel tax. The state will also contribute $500m in bonds.
Following yesterday’s news, a spokesperson told The Tennessean that the Titans “look forward to continuing conversations with the city, Metro Council, sports authority and community as we complete discussions in the new year”.
When announcing the original deal, the Titans said the agreement would relieve a nearly $2bn burden on taxpayers by voiding the team’s current lease deal to play at Nissan Stadium. That lease deal, signed in 1996, legally obligates Nashville to provide a “first-class” stadium for the Titans until 2039.