Tennessee legislature passes budget to include deal for new Titans stadium

Nissan Stadium titans
Posted at 4:50 PM, Apr 21, 2022
and last updated 2022-04-21 19:58:45-04

NASHVILLE, Tenn. (WTVF) — A budget deal that allows the Titans bond and interest money to pay for a new stadium is now approved.

The $500 million package plus a $55 million interest payment for the deal passed both the House and Senate, despite debate from members in both chambers.

The House voted 71-19-3 for the package. In the Senate to reintroduce the bill into the full budget, lawmakers voted 18-12.

An enclosed stadium would cost between $1.9 to $2.2 billion at 1.7 million square feet. Construction would take 31 months, with the hope of completion for the 2026 NFL season.

The Titans said an enclosed stadium would create 15 additional ticket events per year, with $225 million in direct spending compared to the current stadium. With a new stadium, the organization hoped the investment would translate to major events, such as the NCAA Football Playoff, the NCAA Final Four and the NFL Combine.

Gov. Bill Lee originally proposed the $500 million bondcontribution for the stadium build after the team announced that the current stadium needed costly repair work.

Some members in the House and Senate disagreed with the measure. Originally, the Senate took the amendment for the package out of their budget.

"I am not as enamored with this part of the budget," Sen. Jack Johnson, R-Franklin, said.

Others in the House said they had heard from constituents in their districts who didn't want any portion of state funding going toward the NFL team.

I have been quiet through all this, and I would appreciate your attention," Rep. Terri Lynn Weaver, R-Lancaster, said. "We are representative of your districts. My dentist said, 'Hey Terri Lynn, you're not going to vote for this Titans thing for you are?' Seriously, think about what your constituents are thinking. I can't afford to take my family to a Titans game because the tickets are too dadgum expensive. I can think of many things we could do with that chunk of change. The Titans blasted us for supporting women's sports. They won't stand up when our national anthem is being played when they can't even stand up for the anthem. If they don't like that they can go play somewhere else."

Weaver's reference to supporting women's sports emerged from the legislature's bill to not allow trans athletes to play in women's sports. The Titans haven't issued any statement anti-LGBTQ issues or bills in the legislature of that sort since the NFL Draft in Nashville in 2019. At the time, the team said they oppose discrimination in any form.

Others like Rep. Brandon Ogles, R-Franklin, who is leaving the legislature after this year, said that it wasn't in the state constitution for lawmakers to use state money in this way.

"Every time I hear that I am troubled, our constitution states we should not benefit corporations," Ogles said. "It seems like we find workarounds rather than the guide we have been given in which we took an oath to serve. I would challenge you all to read the constitution and follow the guides we have been given."

But during the debate, some supported the measure saying it would benefit all Tennesseans no matter what grand division they resided.

Nashville is in Tennessee, y'all. When one part of our state grows, the rest grows," Rep. Johnny Shaw, D-Bolivar, said. "I am from West Tennessee, and I have not heard one single person tell me to vote against this project. We were fortunate enough to get Blue Oval. Thank God. They are fortunate enough to get a stadium that will draw people all over the world. Thank God. We keep acting like a bunch of kids who have one more toy than what I got. We have to do what's right for Tennessee whether it's east, middle or west."