It now appears it’s a matter of when, not if, the Tennessee Titans will begin building a new stadium.
Speaking at the Metro Sports Authority board meeting on Thursday, Titans President Burke Nihill shared the organization’s plans for building a potential new stadium and the timeline needed to complete the project. Metro owns the property home to Nissan Stadium and would be a partner in any future development at the site.
“We believe there’s a path forward — it’s a little aggressive — but we believe if we have alignment by the fall, we could potentially have a new stadium open for a 2026 Titans season,” Nihill said.
“You’re looking at an 18-month schedule of design, working with architects and other designers to get the plans right. … A new building would be more predictable and a fast schedule. We’re looking at 30-to-31 months for a construction schedule on a new building because they’re not having to tiptoe or work around events.”
Nihill also expounded on why the Titans favored that option instead of renovating Nissan Stadium.
Most of Nissan’s renovation costs lie within the structure itself. The stadium was built in a cost-saving manner in 1999 (for around $292 million) and its concrete foundation makes it a more difficult process to work with than steel.
The Titans initially planned to renovate Nissan Stadium and began the process of piecing together a budget for stadium upgrades in 2020. However, the $600 million renovation estimate from two years ago proved to be closer to $1.2 billion in reality, which is approximately 60-75 percent of the cost of building a new stadium.
If the Titans did forge ahead with renovations to Nissan, Nihill admitted those would only suffice for another 10 years before the organization and the Sports Authority would have to convene again for the same discussions they’re having now.
The Titans are currently working with contractors to determine the cost of a potential new stadium based on comparable stadiums in the league such as Allegiant Stadium in Las Vegas ($1.9 billion) and Mercedes-Benz Stadium in Atlanta ($1.5 billion) and then use that data to finalize a budget in the next few months.
To keep up with rising cost of construction, Nihill disclosed the Titans are highly motivated to get the ball rolling on whichever option the organization decides to pursue.
“We feel a sense of urgency because of the inflationary environment,” Nihill said. “So, whatever it costs today to do something, chances are its 8-20 percent per year more expensive. Whether it is just sticking with the renovation plan, or pursuing a new building, whatever we think would be the budget today, we’re likely going to exceed that because of the inflationary environment.”
Nihill did note that a potential new Titans stadium would actually have a near-13-percent decrease in stadium capacity to keep up with NFL standards.
“I would give you the number 60,000-ish,” he stated. “[Nissan Stadium] is 69,000 give or take. We would work backwards from what are the right seating products and not necessarily be targeting a specific number of seats.
“The modern NFL buildings don’t just try to dump in as many seats as you can up to the corners of the building. What [the NFL wants] is high character spaces. … They like the idea of higher character and less seating. For Super Bowls, they used to have a standard of 75,000 seats. They don’t have that standard anymore.”
Any potential new stadium would be the focal point of the proposed large-scale East Bank project along the Cumberland River that would serve as a mixed-use riverfront development in the 150-acre area spanning from Jefferson Street to Shelby Bottoms.
The East Bank project would include riverfront parks, green space, affordable housing units, offices, retail stores and restaurants, in addition to transit options, and would create thousands of estimated new jobs and generate millions of dollars in tax revenue, which would have been used to fund the Nissan Stadium upgrades. Some community groups are currently advocating for additional promises from the team and the city related to housing and gentrification that could result from new development.
“[The Titans are] just hopeful that we end up with a stadium that ends up a part of one of the more celebrated neighborhoods in Nashville,” Nihill said.
Follow Michael Gallagher on Twitter @MGsports_