The Tennessee Titans have received final approval from the Metropolitan Nashville Council to move forward with plans to build a new, enclosed stadium set on Nashville's East Bank.
Metro Nashville Council issued the final approval on Wednesday, April 26, in a vote of 26-12. The Metro Nashville Sports Authority, the owner and landlord of both the current and new stadium, unanimously approved the stadium agreement on April 4.
"For more than 25 years, Nashville, Tennessee, has been the Titans' home, and with the approval of the new stadium agreement, we are grateful to know the Titans will be a part of this great city and state for decades to come," said Titans controlling owner Amy Adams Strunk. "I remember the early days of our time here feeling all the promise and opportunity ahead, and I feel that same enthusiasm and excitement again today. We are thankful for the support of Mayor Cooper, Metro Council, the Sports Authority, the State of Tennessee, and most importantly, the people of Nashville and Tennessee as we all embark on this new chapter together."
The stadium agreement includes a new 30-year lease and non-relocation agreement between the Titans and the Sports Authority. The terms of the new agreement remove the current obligation of Nashville's General Fund to maintain and upgrade the stadium and returns 66 acres of land to the City of Nashville previously restricted by parking lots through 2039. The City has announced plans to include the returned property in the creation of a new neighborhood set along Nashville's Cumberland River. The neighborhood, through new revenue sources generated by its development, is projected to bring in over a billion dollars to Nashville's General Fund over its first 30 years of development.
The team will also contribute nearly $48 million over the life of the lease to the Nashville Needs Impact Fund, a fund directed by the Metro Council to support city needs such as public education, public transit, affordable housing, and several other areas.
"Tonight is a huge win for Nashville taxpayers," said Nashville Mayor John Cooper. "We've eliminated a billion-dollar liability created by an aging stadium lease and created a platform for the city to thrive for decades. This was always about more than football. This vote unlocks the East Bank Vision for Nashville's next generation. It enables a true smart growth plan for the decades ahead. It will expand our transit network, create affordable housing, build parks and civic space, activate the waterfront, and drive resilience and sustainability.
Mayor Cooper continued: "It allows us to build a transformational north-south boulevard. From neighborhoods across the city, this plan will cut commute times by getting cars off the interstate for intracity trips. It will allow frequent, fast, affordable bus service with dedicated lanes connecting residents to jobs and new opportunities. This is how a city effectively manages growth. It creates a bright future for Nashville, and I'm grateful for Metro Council's support and confidence in this plan."
The stadium is currently estimated at 1.75 million square feet, with a capacity of approximately 60,000. It is anticipated to bring in year-round events, with aspirations to host Super Bowls, NCAA Final Fours, College Football Playoffs, Wrestlemanias, and more. It will also continue to host Tennessee State University home football games, extending the long-standing partnership between TSU and the Titans. The stadium will include a 12,000 square foot community space to host classes for local schools, job trainings, and other community-minded events.
Groundbreaking is expected to occur in early-to-mid 2024, with an opening anticipated in 2027. It will set a goal of achieving a U.S. Green Building Council LEED Gold certification. Titans games and other major events will continue to operate in the current Nissan Stadium until the new building opens.
"Today marks a huge milestone for both the Tennessee Titans organization and the City of Nashville as we move forward with plans for a new stadium," said Titans President and CEO, Burke Nihill. "We are extremely excited about this building's ability to host the world's best and greatest events, but this agreement is about so much more than a stadium. This is a generational opportunity to address our city's priorities and ensure its health and vitality for the next 30 years. Our city and our state have bright futures ahead, and we're humbled by the opportunity to continue to be a part of it."
The Titans are responsible for $840 million of stadium funding and any cost overruns. $500 million will come from a contribution from the State of Tennessee. The remaining $760 million of the $2.1 billion budget will come from revenue bonds issued by the Metro Sports Authority to be repaid through a one-percent increase in Davidson County's hotel occupancy tax, in-stadium sales tax, 50 percent of sales tax from future development of the stadium's campus, rent paid by the team, and a pre-existing ticket tax of three dollars per ticket sold that will carry over to the new building. The stadium budget includes stadium-related infrastructure required to open the building.
Cathy Bender, Chair, Metro Nashville Sports Authority: "The Sports Authority is appreciative of all the hard work and due diligence that has gone into vetting this stadium project. We believe the East Bank stadium project is the right deal for our city and look forward to moving into the next phase with the Tennessee Titans."
Brett Withers, Metro Nashville Council Member: "Tonight's final approval of the new stadium agreement allows Nashville to move forward with the revitalization of the East Bank riverfront that East Nashville neighborhoods have been demanding for more than 40 years. We can now replace an aging, 100 percent taxpayer-supported stadium with a new facility that is funded primarily by the team, by visitors to our city, and by new revenues arising from campus development that is not possible under the old lease. During extensive community engagement that shaped the East Bank Vision Plan, which the Planning Commission unanimously adopted in October of 2022, neighbors who were still learning about the stadium question itself definitively agreed that the prospect of centering the planned Central Waterfront neighborhood not around the current, aging stadium but rather around a new park and multimodal street designed for transit was the better outcome for the future of our thriving city. Relocating the stadium closer to the interstate makes sense for a lot of reasons, but replacing the current stadium with a central community gathering space incorporating green stormwater technology and surrounded by mixed uses including affordable housing is chief among them.
Antoinette Lee, Metro Nashville Council Member: "I was a member of the Special Committee Vice Mayor Shulman established to review this transaction. After months of hearings and testimony, my bottom line was that I truly believed the new stadium proposal results in lower costs to our Davidson County taxpayers than living into the current stadium lease. Additionally, the financial returns we will generate from getting the campus land back 17 years early gives us the opportunity to use a downtown, government-owned asset to generate funds that can be in the outskirts of the city, such as in the southeast. This project had a historic amount of public, community and neighborhood engagement, including six public meetings. While we can always do better, I voted at every opportunity for as much public engagement as possible to help educate and share information with our communities."
Sharon Hurt, Metro Nashville At-Large Council Member: "Throughout this long process I have focused on four criteria that would in the end govern if I supported the new stadium proposal; first, the proposal had to extinguish the massive financially backbreaking taxpayer burdens that flowed from the old Titans Stadium lease; Secondly, the proposal had to have a significant and material financial upside to taxpayers, an upside that would generate much needed funds for our priorities across the County; Third, the proposal had to not just protect TSU, but help put TSU on a path to achieve its long term goals; and finally, fourth, the proposal must include meaningful community benefits, including significant minority participation goals. I want to thank the Tennessee Titans for working so hard to address each of my criteria. I am excited for TSU and thankful that the taxpayers are no longer under a liability for hundreds of millions for Stadium expenses. Tonight, we took a giant step toward a more equitable funding of our most important and high-profile public venue. I was honored to co-sponsor this proposal. I was also pleased to support the creation of the Nashville Needs Impact Fund. This program offers the opportunity to focus tens of millions of dollars every year generated from new development in around the stadium toward Nashville's most pressing needs and those among us, who have been unable to take advantage of the prosperity that this community has seen over the last decade. In a very tangible way, this fund will spread the millions of dollars in new tax revenue generated in this part of the city across the entire County."
Jeff Syracuse, Metro Nashville Council Member: "The new stadium will be a much-improved, long-term revenue generating asset the people will own that supports our operating budget and critical needs across Nashville. The Imagine East Bank Plan's creation that was inclusive of a robust list of community stakeholders guiding this vision allows us to recapture land around the stadium, and control managed growth that creates new opportunities for affordable housing and multi-modal transit."
Courtney Johnston, Metro Nashville Council Member: "I ran for office because I saw a critical need for financial responsibility. This agreement shifts the burden of financial responsibility from the Davidson County taxpayer to the users of the stadium and visitors to our great city. Not only does this agreement take advantage of significant outside investment into our asset, but it also addresses the ongoing and long-term needs for maintenance and capital improvements of this stadium, a thought that was not contemplated in the previous agreement. Every Nashvillian will benefit from the removal of the current liability as well as the excess revenue that this agreement creates. I'm proud to have been a small part of it."
Kevin Rhoten, Metro Nashville Council Member: "Nashville has made a great decision to move forward with the new stadium. The financing of the new stadium through revenue bonds and removing the property tax debt obligation on Nissan Stadium for the property owners and renters of Davidson County is the main reason I supported the new stadium deal. The majority of the new stadium financing is paid by the state, the Titans, and those using the stadium. We knew the improvements to Nissan Stadium over the coming years would be close to one billion dollars, if not more. Our contractual obligation for Nissan made this an easy call if you listened to the experts regarding our obligations over the coming years. These obligations for Nissan would have been funded through property taxes, which single parents or persons on fixed incomes would have had to pay. Individuals that don't use the stadium should not be funding repairs to an old stadium through their property taxes. There are too many tourists visiting this city every year that can pay for a stadium in Nashville. This new stadium deal takes those that don't use the stadium almost entirely out of the picture. Also, the opportunity for the city to plan the development of the East Bank of the Cumberland River is a rare opportunity for a city the size of Nashville. This is a big win for all of the residents of Nashville."
Russ Pulley, Metro Nashville Council Member: "After much thought and deliberation, I supported the new stadium proposal primarily because it represented the only fiscally sound option for the city and its taxpayers. Maintaining the status quo with the current lease or kicking the can down the road as advocated by some of my colleagues created an unacceptable burden to our taxpayers that I simply could not support. The proposal we approved tonight removes the significant financial burden of the stadium and its long-term upkeep from the taxpayer."
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