Feb 17, 2022 - Sports

Scoop: Titans exploring new stadium

Nissan Stadium
Nissan Stadium from the river. Photo: John Russell/NHLI via Getty Images

Nissan Stadium renovation talks between Mayor John Cooper's administration and the Tennessee Titans have expanded in recent weeks to include the possibility of building a new stadium, multiple sources tell Axios.

Why it matters: A new stadium would be a dramatic centerpiece in the team's broader plan to transform the riverfront in East Nashville with an ambitious mixed-use redevelopment project.

  • The emergence of a possible new stadium resets negotiations that have been underway for months.

Driving the news: Renovation talks recently took a turn as the two sides discovered the price tag for necessary upgrades at Nissan had unexpectedly skyrocketed.

  • The Tennessean reported earlier this month the price tag for renovations to the 23-year old Nissan Stadium was $600 million, but a Titans spokesperson tells Axios the actual cost is now estimated to be nearly double that.
  • The Titans confirmed that due to the rising cost estimates, "we need to take a step back and re-evaluate if a stadium renovation is the most responsible option forward and explore other paths."
  • "For example, the stadium's structural frame was built with concrete and needs to be largely replaced with steel. The mechanical, plumbing, and electrical systems need to be completely replaced. The window system throughout the building is so antiquated that it is not even manufactured anymore."

What he's saying: Cooper acknowledged in a statement to Axios that "revised cost estimates require us to closely review whether a new stadium would be a better long-term financial decision."

  • "We won't settle for anything but the best-case scenario for Nashville," Cooper says.

Between the lines: Under the current lease between the Titans and the Metro Nashville Sports Authority, the city must pay for maintenance and keep the stadium in a condition that matches similar venues across the country.

  • That obligation puts the city on the hook for millions of dollars in improvements. The Titans are owed at least $25 million in stadium repairs that have already taken place.
  • The Titans say they are committed to a new stadium lease that removes "Nashville’s general fund from (the) stadium business once and for all."

What we're watching: A series of unknowns remain as discussions of a new stadium begin.

  • Officials did not say if a new stadium would be indoor with a dome, if it would include a retractable roof or if it would be an outdoor venue.

The intrigue: An indoor stadium would position Nashville to host the Super Bowl, the NCAA Final 4 and winter-time concerts. This would increase the overall tax benefit to the city, but also drive up the stadium costs.

  • Talks between the Titans and Cooper were progressing well, but it's unclear how the prospect of a new stadium changes the timeline for hashing out a deal.
  • The initial plan was to take advantage of a state law passed last year by using some of the sales tax dollars generated at the new development to help pay for the stadium upgrades.
  • That part of the plan would remain the same. But it's possible the Titans will have to put more skin in the game to make the financing work.

Flashback: Titans lead owner Amy Adams Strunk previously said she didn't want a new stadium and favored fixing up Nissan instead.

  • But for tourism industry stakeholders, there has been some consternation that an outdoor stadium would limit Nashville's ability to host the Super Bowl.
  • The NFL's premiere event is typically played indoors or in warmer weather cities than Nashville, though there are exceptions, like 2014's game in a New York suburb.

By the numbers: Allegiant Stadium, the Las Vegas Raiders' home field, opened in 2020 and cost about $2 billion.

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