Tennessee Republicans spar over new Titans stadium bond issue

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Posted at 4:40 PM, Apr 20, 2022
and last updated 2022-04-20 19:30:12-04

NASHVILLE, Tenn. (WTVF) — Despite excitement from state leaders about a potential new Titans stadium in Nashville, some Republicans challenged the bond plan to fund it.

Many of the lawmakers around Middle Tennessee supported Governor Bill Lee's plan for a $500 million bond to create a new Titans stadium in downtown Nashville. 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.

However, some rural lawmakers said they think this could be a tax burden for the people who live in their districts.

Among those in dissent is Rep. Jerry Sexton, R-Bean Station.

"Who's going to pay the bond back?" Sexton asked after committee Wednesday. "Who's going to pay the $500 million back? We've already committed to paying $55 million in interest this year or in this budget. Who's paying that? It's coming directly out of the taxpayers."

Budget discussions are a huge part of what committees like Wednesday's finance subcommittee deal with every year.

Sexton voiced his concerns to the committee and voted against the governor's amendment. Republican colleague and Rep. Chris Todd, R-Jackson, joined him.

"What I'm hearing from my constituents in Jackson and that area is consistent over the last couple of weeks. This doesn't make sense," Todd said. "It is not a good deal for the taxpayers. It's not something we should be doing. We should not be investing in someone else's property for a venture like this. It's too risky."

The plan for the bond is that it would be used for a new domed stadium where large events and potentially championship sports games could happen. Supporters promised it would bring year-round value to the state.

"I'm convinced from the numbers that I've seen that the stadium will pay for itself and that it will be a positive impact on Tennessee's budget, the state budget," said Rep. Patsy Hazlewood, R-Signal Mountain. "If you bring dollars into the state, we all benefit now from the economic engine that is Nashville and from the other economic engines across the state, the urban areas."

The budget bill passed out of the committee with the bond plan amendment attached. Republicans expect it to be heard on the House floor Thursday.