Can Nashville Build A New Soccer Stadium Without Raising Taxes? Yes, Mayor Says | Nashville Public Radio

Can Nashville Build A New Soccer Stadium Without Raising Taxes? Yes, Mayor Says

Oct 2, 2017

Nashville Mayor Megan Barry unveiled plans Monday to finance a city-owned soccer stadium. The Mayor said the $250 million proposal would be a new model for Nashville, funded with bonds and paid off by investors.

Mayor Barry said that building this stadium wouldn't require any tax increase on Nashvillians. Instead, the city would use a combination of roughly $225 million in bonds and $25 million from investors.

"I think it represents a better model for how cities can work with sports teams to give residents an entertainment outlet and another team to rally behind while also making sure that we have private investment and safeguard taxpayers," Mayor Barry said.

The dedicated 27,500-seat coliseum at the state fairgrounds is seen as a requirement to land a Major League Soccer team. And the more than $200 million dollars in bonds the city needs to build it are conditional on getting that team.

But some council members, like Steve Glover, expressed worry over taking on such debt.

"What do the taxpayers of Nashville have as their guarantee that if a bankruptcy is filed or something else that we are not on the hook for additional dollars?" Glover asked. 

The catch is that the city will be the ones borrowing the money and will need to pay it back if the team fails. But investors say there will be a cap on what the city's liable for. As the plan stands, investors will repay the debt using their own funds as well as revenues generated by the stadium's sales and ticket taxes. 

This proposed financing structure is a departure from what Nashville did with Bridgestone Arena and Nissan Stadium. Both of those resulted in some kind of tax increase.