Fiscal bonds sought for Titans’ home revamp


Next step for Titans new stadium Image: Tennessee Titans

The Governor of Tennessee, Bill Lee, is backing two proposals with the potential to alter Nashville’s (City in Tennessee, US) place in the national sports landscape.

The ‘Tennessean’ stated that on March 29th, Lee released his latest request to State lawmakers, asking for $500 million in bonds for the National Football League (NFL) team Tennessee Titans’ stadium and a $17 million grant for renovations to the Nashville Fairgrounds Speedway.

The Tennessee Titans are a professional American football team based in Nashville, Tennessee. The Titans compete in the National Football League (NFL) as a member club of the American Football Conference South division, and play their home games at the Nissan Stadium.

The 69,143-capacity Nissan Stadium is a multipurpose stadium in Nashville, Tennessee, United States. Owned by the Metropolitan Government of Nashville and Davidson County, it is primarily used for football and is the home field of the Tennessee Titans of the National Football League and the Tigers of Tennessee State University.

Earlier in January this year, the Tennessee Titans unveiled its plans to totally transform its digs – the Nissan Stadium. An agreement in this regard will reportedly be finalized in the coming months as to who will pick up the tab for revamping the venue, along with a new mixed-use district.

The Nissan Stadium, owned by the Metro Sports Authority, opened in 1999 and has been the home of the Titans ever since. Plans currently being drawn up outline an investment of up to $600m (£442.9m/€530.9m) in stadium upgrades over three seasons.

The 15,000-capacity Nashville Fairgrounds Speedway is a motorsport racetrack located at the Nashville Fairgrounds near downtown Nashville, Tennessee (US). The track is the second-oldest continually operating track in the United States. The track held NASCAR Grand National/Winston Cup races from 1958 to 1984.

The ‘Tennessean’ further stated that the stadium funding is contingent on its final design including a roof, which would open up the possibility of the City hosting Super Bowls, National Collegiate Athletic Association (NCAA) Final Four games and other major indoor events.

The Titans and Nashville officials also would need to strike a deal to finance the rest of the stadium.

The race track money involves a similar contingency. The City would need to complete its deal with the 1, 53,000-capacity Bristol Motor Speedway in Bristol, Tennessee, to update the racetrack.

Taxpayers’ share

The Titans stadium discussions come one day after the Buffalo Bills announced a $1.4 billion deal to build a new football stadium.

New York taxpayers are contributing $850 million to the project, the largest public contribution for a stadium to date. The State of New York is contributing $600 million and Erie County is putting in $250 million.

The Tennessee Finance and Administration Commissioner Butch Eley told Senate lawmakers in a committee meeting recently that the State’s proposed contribution is based on the NFL team Buffalo Bills and Las Vegas Allegiant Stadium deals.

Nevada taxpayers contributed $750 million toward a $2 billion stadium for the NFL team Las Vegas Raiders’ home pitch – the smashing 65,000-capacity Allegiant Stadium in Paradise, Nevada (US).

Senator Bo Watson, R-Hixson, said during the meeting the potential cost of a new or upgraded Titans stadium caught many lawmakers by “surprise”.

Stated the Senate Finance Committee Chairman, Bo Watson, “We understand things change. But we could have had these discussions last year.”

If peer venues are any indication, a new stadium could cost up to $2 billion.

It’s unclear how high Nashville’s contribution to a new stadium could go. City officials have indicated long-term financing would come from private investors who would partner to shape a new neighborhood and entertainment district surrounding the stadium.

Nashville Mayor John Cooper said in a statement that he welcomes the State investment.

Metro Council members Sean Parker and Freddie O’Connell, who represent districts bordering the stadium site, said they are keeping close watch on how any final agreement would impact affordable housing, infrastructure and mobility in the East Bank area.

The county and its affiliates own 105 acres of East-Bank riverfront that they plan to develop with investors willing to meet their larger vision of new neighborhoods near the stadium, upscale entertainment and nightlife surrounded by a variety of transit options.

Stated Parker, “We’re talking about 100 acres of the most desirable real estate in the country, and I’m going to be looking to see that leveraged in a way that benefits the community more broadly than just we might get to host a Super Bowl in five years.”

O’Connell is focused on the potential stadium agreement in the larger context of planned redevelopments on the East Bank – “Any time you look at this, you want the aggregate picture to be better, not just for the Titans, but for the community as a whole. So that means that the entire scenario needs to do things like produce better wages, offer affordable housing for the long term, offer better mobility options for people going to and from the site and moving in and around the site.”

Speedway deal details yet to be revealed

Mayor Cooper agreed in principle to Bristol Motor Speedway’s proposal to overhaul the Nashville Fairgrounds Speedway last November. The company has had the track in its sights for two previous administrations, but as of March 2022, negotiations for the speedway deal are ongoing.

A financial consultant has not concluded a review of the potential deal’s financing, and an official proposal is yet to be presented to the Metro Fair Commissioners Board.

Cooper’s administration stated last March that the City would issue no more than $50 million in revenue bonds for the track renovations, but by November, that cap had risen to approximately $75 million.

State legislators passed a Bill last year that allows a portion of ticket sales to be rerouted to fund improvements – something that could also play a role in financing an eventual agreement for the Titans stadium.

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