Recommendations for Nashville's new Major League Soccer stadium were unveiled Tuesday evening. Among them was a commitment to work with the community, something local activists have been requesting at community meetings for months.
The stadium's ownership group, Nashville Soccer Holdings, has committed to creating a Community Benefit Agreement. The pact would not just build a stadium but also help the area around it, possibly by employing local residents and creating affordable housing.
The news comes as Fairgrounds Nashville is about to undergo a massive transformation, as plans unfold to build a Major League Soccer stadium and 10 acres of private mixed-use development.
In a series of meetings to gather community input for the plan, neighbors said they also want the developers to help improve transportation and ease traffic congestion, while vendors of the fairgrounds said they want increased security and to keep fees at the flea market stable.
"They want to insure that they're being heard, and that this isn't just lip service or that we already have an idea so we're just going to go through this exercise," Laura Womack, the executive director of the Nashville Fairgrounds, says of the feedback.
But George Gruhn, owner of Gruhn Guitars, believes it's just that. Gruhn, who estimates he and his wife spend $50,000 a year at the fairgrounds — buying instruments, oriental rugs, beads and exotic animals — is a staunch preservationist. He has fought against any redevelopment here for nearly a decade.
"Nothing about it works, and I would have to say that their statements that they want it to work are disingenuous," Gruhn says.
He says handing off most of the land to developers and relegating the fairgrounds to a small parcel on the edge will be a disaster for a historic piece of Nashville.
A master plan for the fairgrounds will go before the Metro Council in the coming months.