Mar 28, 2022 - Sports

Scoop: Gov. Lee proposes $500M toward new Titans stadium

Nashville's Nissan Stadium

Nissan Stadium. Photo: Sky Candy Studios/NHLI via Getty Images

Gov. Bill Lee is asking the legislature to approve $500 million in bonds toward a new Tennessee Titans stadium as part of his amended budget, multiple sources tell Axios.

Why it matters: The commitment makes it clear which way the wind is blowing in Titans stadium talks. A financing plan for a new stadium is now the most likely outcome.

  • The organization revealed last month that the cost of renovating Nissan Stadium had escalated so much that a new stadium might make more financial sense. The initial estimate was $600 million, but a more detailed analysis revealed the cost would be about twice that.

Details: The financial commitment comes with major strings attached — the money must go toward an enclosed stadium, not an open-air stadium or a renovation.

  • The state funds are also contingent on the Titans and the city agreeing on a broader financing package.
  • The Titans are likely to significantly contribute to the financing plan.

What they're saying: A spokesperson for Mayor John Cooper tells Axios that "Mayor Cooper is committed to two goals: keeping the Titans in Nashville for generations to come, and doing that in a way that does not divert tax dollars from education, affordable housing, infrastructure, or other general fund obligations. We are continuing to study stadium options that allow us to do both."

  • Metro Councilmember Sharon Hurt says that while she doesn't often agree with Lee, she does today.
  • "The stadium project will hopefully be part of a larger and more impactful complete redevelopment of the east bank area, which also has the potential for significant economic and community benefits for our city, region and state," Hurt tells Axios.

The intrigue: An enclosed stadium appeals to some state stakeholders because of its potential to generate additional tax revenue by hosting major events that the city's current outdoor stadium cannot.

  • The Super Bowl, college basketball's Final Four, the College Football Playoff and wintertime concerts are among the events Nashville could theoretically handle with an enclosed stadium.
  • The city's stock of hotel rooms has exploded in recent years, and these events could keep them filled year-round.

Yes, but: The state funding is only a piece of a larger puzzle. The focus now shifts to how the remaining cost of a new stadium will be financed.

  • The only previously known financing piece was a state law passed last year that directs a portion of the generated sales tax dollars at the new development to pay for stadium upgrades.
  • Metro Councilmember Dave Rosenberg succinctly summed up what many stakeholders are left wondering: "Anyone have an extra $1.5 billion laying around?" Rosenberg tweeted.

Editor's note: This breaking news story was updated with quotes from Mayor John Cooper and Metro Councilmembers Sharon Hurt and Dave Rosenberg, as well as more financial details.


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