The deal to build a professional soccer stadium in Nashville got a significant vote of confidence on Monday from a portion of the Metro Council. A final vote on Tuesday night will determine if the city and the team would share in the stadium cost — if the city is awarded a franchise.
Some on the council consider the $275 million proposal too expensive and too lucrative for the team — but a few council members who had been opposed now say that city investment is justified.
Still, whatever their position, many officials had questions Monday when confronted with an overhauled proposal, plus 17 late-developing amendments.
One of the early critics, Councilman Bob Mendes, said he worked through the weekend to get compromises that he feels will protect city and taxpayer interests.
“I think I might have had 20 comments when I started, and most of them — all but a few — have been included,” he said, adding later: “On balance, we should go ahead.”
Among the changes: a stronger guaranty that the team would cover cost overruns; and that a slice of tax revenues from the development would be given to the Nashville Fairgrounds.
Metro’s Chief Operating Officer, Rich Riebling, said that after construction and infrastructure work there’s still a chance the city would need to pay if ticket sales and merchandise revenues are slow — but that at the most, he projected less than $2 million from Metro, total, over the first five years.
“You know, the deal started very differently than where it ended up…it started with a request for a much larger commitment on the part of the city,” he said. “We could actually have no exposure in any of the years.”
Still in the deal is a controversial 10 acres to be gifted to the team for private development — but some on the council have been satisfied after being reminded that they’d still get to dictate many specifics of that part of the project.
Among opponents is Councilman Steve Glover, who questions prioritizing the stadium over other county needs, and who still worries that Metro would be hit with huge costs if the team or Major League Soccer were to fold entirely.
“I get concerned when we’re going to put our taxpayers on the hook when I’m not certain we really have a golden parachute to protect the taxpayers,” he said.