Axios Nashville

Picture of the Nashville skyline.
December 07, 2021

It's Tuesday and we're glad you're here for another newsletter!

Today's newsletter is 806 words — a 3-minute read.

1 big thing: Nashville SC business booms

Three soccer players clustered around the ball on the field.
Hany Mukhtar, right, of the Nashville SC during a 2020 game in Nissan Stadium. Photo: Brett Carlsen/Getty Images

The Nashville SC matched its surprising on-field success this year with a business-side hat trick by its front office.

  • The club ranked in the top third among 27 Major League Soccer teams in home attendance, beat projections for season ticket sales, and is ahead of schedule on construction of its new fairgrounds stadium.

Why it matters: The Nashville SC ownership group took a financial risk in bringing MLS to Music City in 2020, and the new franchise came with understandable skepticism.

  • While Nashville became the first MLS expansion team to reach the playoff semifinals in each of its first two seasons, the front office was quietly delivering off the field.

By the numbers: The club finished with an average home attendance of 21,200, highlighted by 26,913 fans on Nov. 7.

  • "Our season ticket number is very much a day-to-day moving target, but most recently we pushed through 18,000 season tickets sold," CEO Ian Ayre tells Axios.

What's next: Perhaps most importantly, the $335 million fairgrounds stadium is on track to open in time for the 2022 season.

  • Construction of the surrounding mixed-use development will begin in January, Ayre says.

What he's saying: "Pretty much every metric at our club is growing month to month and projected to grow further in 2022 when we are able to capitalize on greater revenues operating in our own venue," Ayre says.

2. COVID "paradigm shift" coming

Lisa Piercey speaking at a podium as Gov. Bill Lee stands in the background with an american flag.
Tennessee health commissioner Lisa Piercey speaking in 2020 as Gov. Bill Lee watches. Photo: Mark Humphrey/AP

Tennessee health commissioner Lisa Piercey expects the state to start receiving new COVID-fighting pills in the coming weeks.

  • Piercey predicts this will trigger a "paradigm shift" in the pandemic, with a renewed emphasis on quickly identifying COVID-19 infections.

Why it matters: Both oral drugs headed for release — from Merck and Pfizer — reduce the likelihood of hospitalization and death for COVID patients.

  • Piercey told reporters Monday she expects the Merck pill to reach the state by the end of the month, while the Pfizer pill could arrive by January.

Yes, but: Both drugs require patients to start medications within days of the onset of symptoms.

  • "If you think about the normal course of how this plays out, that can get really tricky," Piercey said, noting that people often wait to get tested for the virus a few days after they notice symptoms.
  • People will have to act faster to get the benefits of the pills. "Rapid testing, specifically, is going to be a really important component," Piercey said.

The details: Piercey doesn't know exactly when the pills will be available in Tennessee. Both companies are asking the FDA for emergency authorization; a federal advisory committee last week recommended authorizing the Merck pill.

  • The U.S. plans to buy millions of both pills.
  • The health department will release more information soon about the state's plan for distributing its supply, Piercey says.

By the numbers: New cases in Tennessee continue to rise. As of Sunday, the state recorded a rolling seven-day average of 1,904 cases, in line with numbers from mid-October.

Meanwhile: The Omicron variant has been detected in the neighboring states of Georgia and Missouri. Piercey expects it to arrive in Tennessee soon.

3. Metro Council tackles Cooper spending plan

Exterior shot of the metro courthouse with a large lawn in the front.
The Metro Courthouse. Photo: Mark Humphrey/AP

Mayor John Cooper's proposed $568 million capital spending plan for new buildings and infrastructure projects will be up for a vote when the Metro Council meets tonight.

Why it matters: The spending plan will need to survive a series of amendments seeking to delete some of Cooper's proposed projects.

  • One amendment would reroute $15 million earmarked for a zoo parking garage to transit and pedestrian safety projects.
  • Councilmembers have also proposed to defund the Wharf Park project located on the river south of downtown, as well as the Jefferson Street interstate cap project.

Driving the news: Also on the council agenda tonight is Councilmember Burkey Allen's new tax incentive proposal for downtown area developers to include workforce and affordable housing units in their projects.

4. The Setlist

Illustration: Brendan Lynch/Axios

🗳 The Nashville school board is urging Democratic and Republican officials to keep local board races nonpartisan. (The Tennessean)

💼 Deborah Taylor Tate is planning to step down as director of the Administrative Office of the Courts. (Nashville Post)

🏈 Titans coach Mike Vrabel snapped back at NFL officials over a call in last weekend's Chiefs-Broncos game. (USA Today)

🍺 Flying Saucer Draught Emporium will close its Nashville location this month. (Nashville Business Journal)

5. Your best Nashville holiday gift ideas

The outside of the thistle farms building, with purple flowers and the message Love Heals Every Body" painted on the side.
Thistle Farms on Charlotte Avenue. Photo: Adam Tamburin/Axios

Since we are in the thick of the holiday shopping season, we want to ask you for the best uniquely Nashville gift ideas.

  • What's something you could only buy here? Think biscuit mix from Loveless Cafe, Goo Goo clusters, or a candle collection from Thistle Farms.

📣 Reply to this email with suggestions and we'll include your best responses in an upcoming newsletter!

  • Adam will almost certainly end up using your ideas during last-minute shopping for his loved ones, so thank you in advance.

Nate is loving Adam's Sondheim-inspired Music Monday playlist.

💸 Adam is reading this profile of one of the "Succession" stars.