NASHVILLE, Tenn. (WTVF) — It's quite literally, either the million or billion-dollar question. Who would pay for a new Tennessee Titans stadium?
Thursday, NewsChannel 5 confirmed with the team and the NFL that they were pausing on planned renovations at Nissan Stadium to explore building a new home for Nashville's NFL franchise.
Like most stadium projects, financing will likely be a mix of private money from the team and public money in some form from Metro Government. However, a spokesperson for the Tennessee Titans tells NewsChannel 5 that the ownership group is committed to "heavily investing financially in a new stadium."
Of course, how much "heavily" means is unclear.
For Nashville's top tourism official, he feels like it's worth the investment because Music City has all of the right pieces to host the biggest sporting events in the world, with one exception. "The only thing that’s missing from Nashville being on a lot of those lists is the stadium itself," said Butch Spyridon, CEO of the Nashville Convention and Visitors Corporation.
He thinks a world-class stadium could lure the College Football National Championship, FIFA World Cup or even a Super Bowl. And all would bring in big tax dollars for the city. "Yeah, you’re generating sales tax, you’re creating jobs and you’re helping pay for schools and roads and police, because when you don’t have an income tax, you’re relying on sales tax," he said.
But would it be enough to offset spending millions, or even billions, on a new stadium? Butch says yes. Alex Plushanski, a self-professed sports fan, says, only if the team is paying for it. "It just doesn’t make any sense because the owners are already making so many millions of dollars that they want to invest and build a stadium, then they’re going to make their money back so why is the public fronting the money and giving them a tax break? It’s just another handout for rich people," said Plushanski.
The remaining balance after what the Titans contribute would likely be paid using government bonds. However, some of the revenue to pay those back could come from new retail options built around the new stadium. "The people who want to enjoy it are the ones helping to underwrite it and the city and the state are benefiting in the other percentages that get divided," said Spyridon.
A spokesperson for the Titans added, right now under the current Nissan Stadium deal, taxpayers are on the hook for any upgrades at the current facility through Metro's general fund. They say they are committed to not putting that provision in, in a new stadium deal.
Spyridon says, people can have legitimate concerns about a stadium deal, but he asks them to wait until there's actually a deal to scrutinize. "We deserve a look so let’s be patient, let’s get our numbers together and then address it," he said.