Wrangling Over Ballpark’s Financial Risk, Council Poises For Key Vote

The proposed new ballpark would face downtown from 4th Avenue near Jefferson Street. (Image via Mayor Karl Dean's office)

The proposed new ballpark would face downtown from 4th Avenue near Jefferson Street. (Image via Mayor Karl Dean’s office)

The proposed new ballpark for the Nashville Sounds faces a pivotal vote in the Metro Council Tuesday night. Committee members wrangled Monday over whether the deal should put the baseball team on the hook for more financial risk.

Part of the deal gives the team land near the proposed stadium to build a residential development. Metro is relying on that to generate tax dollars, but in case it doesn’t work out, some want to hold the team liable, like Councilman Carter Todd:

“We’re elected to protect the taxpayers, and I love the Sounds, I appreciate what they’re saying, but – trust, but verify.”  

View from 4th Avenue, where the proposed ballpark's home plate would look south toward downtown Nashville. (Credit WPLN/ Daniel Potter)

View from 4th Avenue, where the proposed ballpark’s home plate would look south toward downtown Nashville. (Credit WPLN/ Daniel Potter)

Others fired back, like Councilman Jerry Maynard, who called the new condition a “poison pill” that would sink the whole deal. The Sounds’ owner, Frank Ward, was indignant at the suggestion he might not come through.

“I’m about to commit $5 million to buy land.  I’ve already hired an architect and I’m spending money to design a building.  I’m not doing that because at the end of the day I’m going to say ‘Ha! I got the stadium, I fooled all you guys.’”

With some key members absent, the proposed tweak to the deal narrowly passed the Convention and Tourism Committee 5-4, while the Budget Committee rejected it 3-7.

The ballpark proposal overall sailed through several committees. To move ahead Tuesday night, the financial part will need approval from 27 of the council’s 40 members. It could then be up for a final vote at a special meeting next week.


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