As mayoral election threatens Nashville soccer, hockey subsidies, Predators’ mascot weighs in with key endorsement

When MLS announced that it was awarding one of two new expansion teams to Nashville S.C. last December, it seemed like the city had gotten the nod mostly because it had promised more than $75 million in subsidies for a new stadium. As it turns out, though, neither is now entirely certain — the public funds or the expansion franchise — thanks to, well, let’s let VenuesNow magazine tell it:

Former Mayor Megan Barry championed the stadium project but resigned in March after pleading guilty to a felony theft charge connected to her affair with a former police bodyguard. Mayor David Briley, who took over for Barry, faces a special election May 24, and other candidates have called into question the wisdom of Briley continuing on the stadium path.

Mayoral candidates have questioned allowing the team to take over space next to the stadium for development while Nashville taxpayers shoulder financial risk, candidate Ralph Bristol told local daily newspaper The Tennessean. One, Carol Swain, doesn’t believe the city can afford to fund the stadium, which the team plans to pay off with $25 million up front and $9 million a year over 30 years (ticket taxes are expected to cover the remainder of the yearly debt), and another, state Rep. Harold Love Jr., wants to look at changing the location but wonders whether any money at all should be spent on a stadium.

But can a new mayor undo a decision that the metro council already made last fall? Apparently so, as the council still needs to approve the stadium lease and rezone land at Nashville’s fairgrounds for stadium use. And if it doesn’t, team owner John Ingram warns, MLS could still pull the franchise and give it to another city.

And Nashville SC isn’t the only sports team concerned about Thursday’s mayoral election: The owners of the Nashville Predators, who have been seeking a new lease that would include public money for renovations for their arena, are worried about the outcome as well. So they waded in the only way they know how: By having the Predators’ president and mascot stand side-by-side to endorse Briley for re-election:

I don’t know about you, but when a silent person in a giant sabre-tooth tiger head points at me with instructions on who to vote for for mayor, I pay attention. I don’t know that I do what he says — the only pointing mascot I’ll take political leadership from is Youppi! — but I will certainly stare on, transfixed by the spectacle.

12 comments on “As mayoral election threatens Nashville soccer, hockey subsidies, Predators’ mascot weighs in with key endorsement

  1. The math of this deal throws me off. Where does the team expect to get $25 million in one year? And another $9 million a year for 30 years after that? Do any MLS teams make profits like that? Also they’d be paying back $295 million for $75 million from the city. At those rates they should just use their Visa card. Plus they’d get the miles.

  2. Youppi! has powers that Tammany hall could only dream of.

    My new theory on professional sports stadium subsidies is that they aren’t really fading. All that is happening is that some team owners are now coming out against them (at least, when they are destined for owners of other teams…) precisely because they don’t like the competition.

    After all, there’s only so much fiat currency you can print in a day… even if you aren’t really printing it, just creating it through the magic of low grade municipal bonds or Federal Reserve Banking system computers, I guess….

    • Wait, John, which team owners have opposed subsidies for their competitors? That’s pretty much taboo for cartel members…

      • It is (though it’s an open question whether cartel members from one sport actually think of other lesser cartels as members of their club)… but they are getting close.

        So long as the dollars are being borrowed & printed freely, the motivation may not be there. However, at some point it will become obvious to the (for example) Bengals of this world that any subsidy for FC Cincinnati might usurp some of the money the county will need to invent holographic displays for the Bengals themselves.

        You’ve seen the (excellent) movie “Lifeboat”, yes?

        • I suspect there are plenty of non-sports projects to throw out of the boat first. Schoolkids — how many divisions have they got?

          • Good point. And as cartels go, they are notoriously weak negotiators.

  3. Isn’t it a sign of the times when this:

    “Former Mayor Megan Barry championed the stadium project but resigned in March after pleading guilty to a felony theft charge connected to her affair with a former police bodyguard”.

    really doesn’t even register on the moral outrage scale anymore?


      Probation and restitution. Justice is so sweet for white politicians who commit felonies.

      • Thanks Ted. I assumed that “theft” meant the more familiar usage of the term (IE: actual theft of property, not something more akin to misuse of public funds… though that still counts). Not to split hairs, but if she actually took the trips she billed the city for then it isn’t fraud (as it would be if she put in false expense reports for trips that didn’t happen and pocketed the money).

        Agree on the white collar crime angle though… steal a $3 loaf of bread and get 2 years…. steal $30m from depositors or investors and you probably won’t even lose your job.

        Bogus trips are not unknown to many elected officials, but it does seem Ms. Barry took more than her share, and was ‘very selective’ about who went along.

      • While I get your central premise, I think former Governor Rod Blagojevich (Federal Prisoner number 40892-424) would disagree. (So would his predecessor George Ryan, and come to think of it, two of his predecessors, Dan Walker… and Otto Kerner… maybe it’s just Illinois that jails white criminals.