Following a public and acrimonious months-long stand-off, Nashville Mayor John Cooper and Nashville SC majority owner John Ingram announced that they have reached agreement to allow construction to begin for the Major League Soccer team’s soccer-specific stadium at the Fairgrounds Nashville.
Under the terms of the revised deal, Nashville SC has agreed to 100 per cent fund the stadium construction – via cash investment, stadium lease payments, and revenues generated at the stadium by attendees of events – eliminating taxpayer and budget burden.
As such, Nashville SC will fund the infrastructure in the immediate vicinity of the 30,000-seat stadium, estimated to be $19m, while also assuming Nashville Metro’s obligation to pay up to $35m toward lease payments.
The deal also makes provision for a parcel of land next to the stadium – which was at the center of the impasse – to be designed in such a way that is serves the operational needs of multiple Fairgrounds uses. This keeps the option open of Nascar returning to the nearby Fairgrounds Speedway racetrack, which has been a priority of Cooper.
The stadium is now estimated to cost $335m to construct.
Nashville SC, MLS and the local community successfully ramped up the pressure on Cooper to reach a deal in the past month, which a petition and a series of public statements.
“We are very happy to be moving forward with the stadium construction,” Ingram said in a statement. “The investment we are making is not just for our soccer team, it is an investment in the future of Nashville and the Fairgrounds.”
Cooper added: “I’m so glad we’ve reached a better deal for Nashville. I’m grateful to Nashville Soccer Holdings and John Ingram for understanding our city’s financial realities and agreeing to pay up to $54m in additional costs. This deal saves the taxpayers money and provides a better site plan for the Fairgrounds. Today is an exciting step forward for sports in Nashville and I’m ready for the first Nashville SC game on February 29.”
Nashville SC will join MLS this month and initially play at Nissan Stadium, the home of the National Football League’s Tennessee Titans, until the stadium construction has finished.
The team has now sold more than 40,000 tickets for its MLS home opener against Atlanta United, Nashville SC chief executive Ian Ayre revealed.