Oct 18, 2022 - Sports

Titans stadium proposal would get the most money in NFL history

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

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

A new domed Titans stadium will cost $2.1 billion, including $1.26 billion in tax dollars, under a plan presented Monday by the team and Mayor John Cooper.

The big picture: It would be the most public money ever committed to an NFL stadium project.

Why it matters: Cooper argues the proposal is the financially wise decision for the city. His administration pointed to a preliminary consultant's report showing that the current lease obligation for the 23-year-old Nissan Stadium is between $1.75 and $1.95 billion over the next 17 years.

  • That liability would be paid out of the city's operating budget, which funds schools, the police department and the nuts and bolts of Nashville's government.
  • But the deal continues the perception of city leaders moving heaven and earth for tourism-related investments while more pressing needs for residents persist.

Zoom in: The new building will seat between 55,000 and 60,000 people, the Titans said. The hope is for it to open in 2026.

Details: The Titans are committing $840 million in private funding to the project. That includes financing through the NFL and the sale of new personal seat licenses to season ticket holders.

  • Gov. Bill Lee and the legislature approved $500 million in state bonds earlier this year for a new domed stadium.
  • The largest chunk of taxes for the new stadium will be generated by Nashville tourists and by people spending money in and around the stadium. A 1% tax on all hotel room rentals combined with sales tax collected within the new stadium and the surrounding 130-acre campus would account for $760 million.
  • The Titans will be responsible for all construction cost overruns. The team will also pay the remaining $30 million debt for Nissan Stadium and forgive $35 million owed by the city under the current lease for completed improvements and maintenance.

The dedicated tax revenue streams will also pay for future capital expenses at the new stadium. But in the event of a shortfall, the Titans will cover those expenses.

  • The Titans will sign a minimum 30-year lease, and return 66 acres where Nissan Stadium sits for the city to use for the new East Bank boulevard, affordable housing and other infrastructure.
  • The Titans also plan to announce additional community investments in housing, public education and workforce development in the coming days.

What he's saying: "Doing nothing was not a legal option for us, and renovating the current stadium proved to be financially irresponsible, so we are proposing a new stadium paid for by the team, the state, tourists and spending around the stadium — not by your family," Cooper said in a press release.

Now Cooper's office and the Titans must convince the council that the plan is a good idea.

Driving the news: Metro Councilmember Bob Mendes, who chairs the stadium and East Bank committee that's vetting the deal, has emerged as the project's chief skeptic.

  • Mendes says the actual cost of the stadium project is much larger because the city is embarking on East Bank redevelopment, which will cost $700 million in infrastructure improvements, according to the most recent capital improvement budget. He says the more ambitious and expensive redevelopment plan wouldn't be happening without the stadium.
  • Although the general fund will not be tapped for the new stadium, Mendes argues the city is still in the stadium business since public tax dollars will be used to cover the capital expenditure costs.
  • The state legislation creating the new revenue streams earmarked them specifically for the stadium project.

Yes, but: Metro Councilmember Freddie O'Connell, who is running for mayor in 2023, took to social media to express his skepticism.

  • "TFW the mayor says we can't afford to invest billions in #transit but proposes billions of dollars of public sportsball spending," O'Connell tweeted.

Get more local stories in your inbox with Axios Nashville.


Support local journalism by becoming a member.

Learn more

More Nashville stories

No stories could be found


Get a free daily digest of the most important news in your backyard with Axios Nashville.


Support local journalism by becoming a member.

Learn more