June 28, 2022

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Sports Really Satisfies

Report: Stadium lease would cost Nashville $1.8B

Photo: Raymond Boyd/Getty Images

It would cost Metro $1.8 billion through 2039 to fulfill its obligations to the Tennessee Titans under the current lease agreement at Nissan Stadium, according to a report the team presented to the Sports Authority on Thursday.

Why it matters: The obligation of the current lease deal is a crucial comparison because the Titans and Mayor John Cooper are negotiating a deal to build a new enclosed stadium next to Nissan.

  • Cooper said last week the current lease deal is too burdensome for Metro and a new arrangement — one that removes the long-term financial obligation without tapping the city’s general fund — is in order.

By the numbers: According to the Titans’ report, Metro’s total obligation is divided between $945 million — to renovate Nissan and reimburse the franchise for capital costs it has already incurred — and the $894 million it would owe to maintain the stadium through the end of the lease.

  • A provision of the lease requires the stadium to be kept in a condition similar to other sports venues built around the same time.
  • The report was produced by consultants for the Titans at the Sports Authority’s request, a Titans spokesperson tells Axios.

Yes, but: Metro Councilmember Bob Mendes suggested the Cooper administration should consider funding its own study to determine if the Titans’ estimate is accurate.

  • Cooper spokesperson TJ Ducklo said in a press release, “We have no plans to commission another study to tell us what we already know: renovating the stadium would cost Nashvillians hundreds of millions of dollars.”

What he’s saying: Titans CEO Burke Nihill tells Axios that the team is confident in the estimate.

  • Even if another study produced a different dollar figure, Nihill says the conclusion would be the same: “The Sports Authority is facing a large unfunded obligation under the current lease.”

Details: Cooper’s administration filed the capital improvement budget last week estimating a new stadium will cost up to $2.2 billion.

  • Cooper says the stadium will be paid for with sales tax revenue produced by fans attending the games and hotel taxes paid by tourists visiting Nashville.
  • By comparison, there is no funding stream to cover the vast majority of the current lease obligations, which are paid out of the city’s general fund.
  • The Titans, along with the NFL, are expected to contribute in the neighborhood of $700 million. And Gov. Bill Lee’s budget that passed this legislative session included $500 million in bonds toward a new stadium.

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