Axios Nashville

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Today's newsletter is 873 words — a 3.5-minute read.

1 big thing: Honoring a Meharry groundbreaker

A historical marker for Dr. Josie E. Wells.
Photo: courtesy of Meharry Medical College

Meharry Medical College is unveiling a new historical marker today honoring trailblazing graduate Josie E. Wells.

Why it matters: Wells was one of Nashville's first female doctors and the first woman to join the Meharry faculty, helping steer the historically Black medical college through the early 1900s.

  • "She became the matriarch of a generation," Meharry library executive director Sandra Parham tells Axios.

Driving the news: Parham helped push for the historical marker after learning about Wells' story through library archives. The Metro Historical Commission unanimously approved the marker last year.

  • "She had to overcome a lot," Parham says of Wells, who was only one generation removed from slavery and was one of just a handful of women to graduate from Meharry in 1904.
  • Wells then founded a private practice to treat women and children in the city.

Between the lines: The new historical marker, which will be on Dr. DB Todd Jr. Boulevard, is the latest in a broad effort among city leaders and historians to recognize Black leaders who shaped the city by fighting for equality.

  • Parham says Wells' hard work set an example for those who followed during the civil rights movement in the 1960s.

The big picture: Recognizing Wells' legacy is part of appreciating the city's broader history, Parham says.

  • "Hopefully other people who didn't know the story will know the story," Parham says.
  • "I want a child on Albion Street three blocks over to say, 'I can do that. … That school up on the hill is for me, too.'"

2. Report: Stadium lease would cost city $1.8B

Exterior photo of Nissan Stadium.
Photo: Raymond Boyd/Getty Images

It would cost Metro $1.8 billion through 2039 to fulfill its obligations to the Tennessee Titans under the current lease agreement at Nissan Stadium, according to a report the team presented to the Sports Authority yesterday.

Why it matters: The obligation of the current lease deal is a crucial comparison because the Titans and Mayor John Cooper are negotiating a deal to build a new enclosed stadium next to Nissan.

  • Cooper said last week the current lease deal is too burdensome for Metro and a new arrangement — one that removes the long-term financial obligation without tapping the city's general fund — is in order.

By the numbers: According to the Titans' report, Metro's total obligation is divided between $945 million — to renovate Nissan and reimburse the franchise for capital costs it has already incurred — and the $894 million it would owe to maintain the stadium through the end of the lease.

  • A provision of the lease requires the stadium to be kept in a condition similar to other sports venues built around the same time.
  • The report was produced by consultants for the Titans at the Sports Authority's request, a Titans spokesperson tells Axios.

Yes, but: Metro Councilmember Bob Mendes suggested the Cooper administration should consider funding its own study to determine if the Titans' estimate is accurate.

  • Cooper spokesperson TJ Ducklo said in a press release, "We have no plans to commission another study to tell us what we already know: renovating the stadium would cost Nashvillians hundreds of millions of dollars."

What he's saying: Titans CEO Burke Nihill tells Axios that the team is confident in the estimate.

  • Even if another study produced a different dollar figure, Nihill says the conclusion would be the same: "The Sports Authority is facing a large unfunded obligation under the current lease."

Details: Cooper's administration filed the capital improvement budget last week estimating a new stadium will cost up to $2.2 billion.

  • Cooper says the stadium will be paid for with sales tax revenue produced by fans attending the games and hotel taxes paid by tourists visiting Nashville.
  • By comparison, there is no funding stream to cover the vast majority of the current lease obligations, which are paid out of the city's general fund.
  • The Titans, along with the NFL, are expected to contribute in the neighborhood of $700 million. And Gov. Bill Lee's budget that passed this legislative session included $500 million in bonds toward a new stadium.

3. The Setlist

Illustration of a chicken wearing sunglasses with fire reflected in the lenses.
Illustration: Brendan Lynch/Axios

🧸 Two organizations are using $7.5 million in pandemic relief funds to try to solve the city's child care crisis. (Tennessean)

🏒 The Predators signed John Hynes, who has been the team's head coach since January 2020, to a new multiyear extension. (Nashville Post)

🎶 Wynonna Judd will bring an all-star roster of country music women along to help sing classics from The Judds' catalog during her upcoming tour. (Rolling Stone)

Stop by to see who’s hiring

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  1. Lead-Inside Sales at Verizon.
  2. Communications Manager, Finance and Global Business Services at Amazon.
  3. Director-SAP Quote-to-Cash at AO Smith.

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4. State colleges freeze tuition

Illustration of a stack of frozen dollar bills with snowcaps.
Illustration: Maura Losch/Axios

No public colleges or universities in Tennessee will increase in-state tuition for undergraduates next year.

  • The statewide tuition freeze was formalized yesterday by the Tennessee Higher Education Commission (THEC).

Why it matters: Inflation is pinching wallets across the nation, and college enrollment is sagging. Officials hope keeping tuition rates stable here will make higher education more affordable for Tennessee families.

What they're saying: "Students are already facing higher prices for housing, groceries, and gas," THEC chair Evan Cope said in a statement.

  • "Thanks to a generous investment from the state and today's action from the commission, we're able to tell these students that they won't be paying higher prices for tuition."

Between the lines: THEC leaders said an influx of $90 million for the higher education funding formula in the new budget helped make the tuition freeze possible.

🌎 Nate and Adam are learning more about Axios' ongoing expansion at a conference in Washington, D.C.