Mar 30, 2022 - Politics

Titans stadium funding scrutinized by Republican senators

Illustration of the Tennessee State Capitol building with lines radiating from it.

Illustration: Allie Carl/Axios

Republican senators quizzed Gov. Bill Lee's administration Tuesday on the proposal to commit $500 million to a new Titans stadium.

Driving the news: Finance and Administration Commissioner Butch Eley discussed the proposal with lawmakers while presenting the administration's budget amendment.

  • Eley told the committee that Lee's administration believes an enclosed stadium would allow Nashville to possibly host the Super Bowl, Final Four and more concerts.
  • "We believe now's the time to do it," Eley said.

Why it matters: The legislature must sign off on the $500 million in bonds.

The intrigue: State. Sen. Jack Johnson (R-Franklin) pressed Eley on the need to commit funds before a full financing deal is in place.

  • "Should we not wait until we have a clearer picture before we make a commitment?" Jackson asked.
  • Eley said that with inflation, the administration believes it's smart to send the signal now that it intends to support the stadium project.
  • The state will have another opportunity to sign off on its contribution once a full financing plan is in place, Eley said, adding "if that doesn't play out the way we think is prudent and in [our best interest], we certainly don't have to go forward."

State of play: State Sen. Joey Hensley (R-Hohenwald) asked if the Titans could go forward with the new stadium project, expected to cost in the neighborhood of $2 billion, without the state's funding help.

  • "It'd make it very difficult for them to proceed, in my estimation, if the state does not participate," Eley said.
  • Eley also assured the committee that the state's funding is contingent on the Titans ownership and Metro "stepping up in a greater proportion than our investment."

🥕 Meanwhile, Lee's amended budget includes $80 million to eliminate the grocery tax for one month.

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