Sep 27, 2022 - News

Announcement looming on Titans stadium deal

Photo illustration of Nashville Mayor John Cooper  with lines radiating from him.

Photo illustration: Allie Carl/Axios. Photo: Leah Puttkammer/Getty Images

Mayor John Cooper and the Tennessee Titans are on the brink of announcing a deal to build a new domed stadium.

  • It will be one of the most expensive and complicated public financing deals in Metro history.

Why it matters: It would settle the financing question before the 2023 mayor's race ratchets up and would set up pivotal votes in the Metro Council.

  • Sources say the legislation for the financing term sheet will be in front of Metro Council so that it can be approved before the end of the year.
  • Because there will be multiple waves of legislation, the final votes may not come until next year.

Between the lines: The timeline would allow for the bulk of the plan to be finalized before the legislative session begins in January. Working on this time frame would wipe away the remote chance of an angry Republican legislature trying to undo state-approved funding sources in retaliation for the council blocking the Republican National Convention.

The intrigue: Here is what's known as negotiations enter the final stretch, as well as the biggest questions facing the $2.2 billion project based on recent reporting.

Four revenue sources approved by Gov. Bill Lee and the legislature are already in place to pay for the stadium: $500 million in state bonds, a 1% tax on all hotel room bookings in Davidson County, sales tax collected from inside the new stadium and new sales tax collected from the 130-acre campus surrounding the stadium.

  • The Titans' contribution to the project — which includes financial commitments from ownership, financing from the NFL and perhaps revenue generated by new seat licensing fees paid by season ticket holders — will account for approximately $800 million. The Titans will also pay for construction cost overruns.

What we're watching: Perhaps the biggest unanswered question is how to pay for the surrounding infrastructure.

  • Critics, led by Councilmember Bob Mendes, view the stadium and broader East Bank redevelopment plan as linked, and they say that pushes the actual price tag to approximately $3 billion combined for the two projects.
  • Stakeholders are watching whether Cooper's plan earmarks tax dollars from stadium revenue streams to pay for some of the East Bank infrastructure costs as well as future capital expenses at the new stadium.

Yes, and: There's also the question of affordable housing. The East Bank vision included affordable housing but was vague on details. Adding affordable housing to the stadium plan could help persuade skeptical council members to back the stadium.

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