(Image courtesy of tennesseetitans.com)
Written By: Joseph Yun
News broke on Monday morning that the city of Nashville represented by Mayor John Cooper and the Tennessee Titans finally brokered a deal on a new stadium. Nate Rau of Axios.com was the first to report on this news. It further solidifies the commitment to the city of Nashville that the Titans have shown under owner Amy Adams Strunk. None of these developments are possible without her support. Frankly, this stadium deal was first engineered after that the new uniform unveiling event gathered strong support back in 2018. The downtown party of that event led to the NFL awarding the 2019 NFL Draft, which was a huge hit on Day 1, despite inclement weather. Even the NHL has taken notice of the massive crowd support that the Titans have received by awarding the upcoming 2023 draft and awards show to the city. The franchise recently modernized its practice facilities at St. Thomas Sports Park under Strunk’s tenure as well.
The Mayor’s office issued a press release alongside the Titans, confirming the early morning report as seen below:
The Devil in the Details
- The franchise agreed to waive the legal obligation ($62 million) owed by the city to the team in recent renovations and the remaining bonds as per the 1996 lease agreement. In exchange for this, the city regains the original 66 acres that Nissan and the surrounding areas sit on for public use. This frees the fiscal burden borne by the public for better usage in more pressing needs like schools, emergency services, etc. Tennessee the organization has agreed to bear the costs of construction and maintenance during the life of the lease (30 years minimum). At the time of expiration of the said lease, the city will assume ownership of the stadium. No public funds (i.e. Metro Council annual budget) will be used in building the stadium.
- The most interesting bit is that the proposed new facility will strictly be a dome without a retractable roof, a feature that prominently adorns some newer pigskin palaces such as Jerry World, Lucas Oil Stadium, and Mercedes-Benz Stadium. Perhaps a domed design that leans towards the palatial estates of US Bank Stadium (Vikings), SoFi (Rams / Chargers), or Allegiant Stadium (Raiders) is in the offing.
- According to the report, the combined cost of the new digs is estimated to be in the region of $2.2 billion. The organization and the NFL are expected to chip in $840 million of its finances via league loans, PSLs, and team funds while the state will add $500 million as a kind of gift, with the city footing the rest ($760 million) via hotel/tourism and sales taxes around the area as revenue bonds.
- Any new stadium and the surrounding areas accompanying it would be located near I-24, east of the current Nissan Stadium, part of the proposed East Bank redevelopment plan.
- Tennessee State University is also a tenant for four games and subject to zero rent obligation plus their personal locker room! Interestingly, the current head coach of the HCBU program is none other than Titans legendary running back Eddie George.
It would be a similar situation to what the Atlanta Falcons encountered when building MBS. Playing in the since demolished iconic Georgia Dome relatively next door while the new place was under construction.
When the new place is fully built, the city, state, and organization will be salivating at the immense profit that non-Titans events at the dome can garner. Events such as the College Football Playoff, March Madness, Super Bowl, and many more like Wrestlemania (Nissan hosted SummerSlam this past summer).
While the city of Nashville and the franchise have agreed on the deal, it is subject to various legislative approval processes. It might be a few more months yet before the first shovel hits the ground and the first ribbon cutting. Historically, the Metro Council has been loath to approve any significant expenditures so the fact that their budget will not be touched in the deal could be the right carrot for them to give the go-ahead.