Apr 20, 2023 - News

Tennessee bill makes it easier to approve racetrack plan

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

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

Metro Council won't have a very long break before it considers another financing plan for a professional sports venue.

  • Council will take up the third and final vote for a new Titans stadium next week. Then, after the budget process concludes in June, Mayor John Cooper's administration is likely to renew its push for approval of its fairgrounds racetrack renovation plan.

Flashback: In 2011, Davidson County voters approved a charter amendment that required at least 27 council members to sign off on the demolition of buildings at the fairgrounds. The referendum was held following then-Mayor Karl Dean's push to demolish the racetrack and redevelop the fairgrounds.

  • The spirit of that referendum was to preserve the historic racetrack, but the charter amendment became a clear hurdle for Cooper's new renovation plan.

State of play: Thanks to a state bill approved this week, it will be easier for the plan to pass.

  • It lowers the vote threshold needed to approve a racetrack renovation from 27 votes to a majority. Since there are currently 39 council members, Cooper would need at most 20 votes in support to approve his plan.
  • The measure is awaiting Lee's signature.

Details: Cooper proposes funding the plan through tax revenue generated at the racetrack, investment from the Nashville Convention and Visitors Corp. and rent payments by NASCAR powerhouse Bristol Motor Speedway.

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