City officials question financial plan for Nashville’s soccer stadium

(Courtesy: HOK/M2N)

NASHVILLE, Tenn. (WKRN) – Metro’s Department of Finance must answer questions about Mayor Megan Barry’s plan to build a new soccer stadium by Oct.10.

In a letter written by Councilwoman Tanaka Vercher on behalf of Metro Council’s Budget and Finance Committee, she asks the department 19 questions focused on if the deal is good for Nashville taxpayers.

“We wrote the letter out of concern,” Vercher told News 2. “We’re working on a collapsed timeline and there’s a lot of questions the committee felt needed to be answered to make sure we’re vetting the deal properly.”

To pay for the $250 million stadium, the private investment group, MLS2Nashville, would front $25 million in cash. The remaining $225 million would be borrowed through bonds.

The stadium would then be leased to MLS2Nashville, which would pay $9 million every year toward the debt.

An additional $4 million per year would be paid with money made from ticket sales.

(Courtesy: HOK/M2N)

However, Vercher worries that if the stadium isn’t successful and there isn’t enough revenue, the taxpayers could be on the hook for millions of dollars.

Plus, Metro’s wishlist is constantly growing. The city has expressed a desire to build a flood wall, affordable housing, and infrastructure updates.

Vercher wonders if the city should gamble with a stadium.

“We want to make sure that we’re vetting this deal for the city and that we’re spending taxpayer’s dollars wisely,” she said.

Included in the financial deal is 10 acres at the fairgrounds that would be given to a developer for a mixed-use project. No details are available about the project, and the city would be giving the land away for free.

“We want to make sure that if we want this amenity as a whole that it benefits the citizens of the city and not go to benefit developers,” Vercher told News 2.

But the MLS ownership group is confident that the burden of paying for the stadium would not fall to taxpayers. MLS2Nashville spokesperson Clint Brewer wrote:

Feedback on the plan from the community and members of Council has been positive and constructive. The plan is 90 percent financed by private dollars, and the ownership group is making a significant financial commitment to Nashville. The city is in a terrific position to win a Major League Soccer team, and we will continue to work with Council and citizens to answer their questions.

Metro’s Sports Authority will vote on the plan Thursday. Then, Metro Council will vote on it next Tuesday.

The entire plan is contingent upon Major League Soccer allowing Nashville its own team. Metro hopes the stadium will convince MLS before a decision is announced in December.