Nashville mayor agrees to revised MLS stadium deal that costs taxpayers the same $75m as before

Great news, everybody! Nashville Mayor John Cooper and the owners of Nashville S.C. have settled their dispute over the team’s stadium deal, and according to the Tennessean:

To accommodate the mayor’s demands, the team will pay $54 million more in potential expenses — which includes $19 million in infrastructure and $35 million for stadium debt payments the city was previously on the hook for if sales and ticket revenues came up short.

Wow, that’s great! Cooper’s refusal to issue demolition permits enabled him to extract $54 million in concessions from team owner John Ingram, and … hey, wait, that $54 million figure sounds kind of familiar:

  • In the spirit of cooperation, the Team offered to pay an additional $19 Million to Metro for infrastructure in the immediate vicinity of the stadium.” This is real money — assuming the team (sorry, the Team) isn’t playing games and reclassifying tortilla chip fryers as “infrastructure” or something — but not exactly a huge concession given that the current deal doesn’t specify who’s responsible for infrastructure overruns, so it comes down to How about we split the costs, where we pay $19 million (sorry, $19 Million) and you pay whatever’s left over?
  • If ticket and sales tax revenues fell short of their $35 million projections, Ingram would cover any shortfall instead of making the city do it. This is worth something to the city, but almost certainly not anywhere near $35 million — how much depends on what you think the likelihood is of the taxes falling short, and by how much.
  • Ingram would also cover $85 million in stadium construction cost overruns, which is nice and all, but it was always going to be on the hook for stadium overruns, so this isn’t a savings to the public at all.

That’s from a week ago Tuesday, when Cooper rejected the offer as insufficient. The difference now appears to be that the legendary Parcel 8C, a two-acre plot between the stadium site and the racetrack next door, will be subject to a “general statement of principles” agreed to by the team that it will allow for an open plaza, like Cooper (and NASCAR) wanted.

Nowhere in the celebratory coverage, meanwhile, is it mentioned that Nashville will still be putting up $25 million in cash and around $50 million in kicked-back sales taxes, plus free land. That was the case in the original deal, and that was the case in this deal — the only difference is that Ingram has agreed to cover more of the added cost increase from overruns or revenue shortfalls. So while Cooper has successfully kept the deal from getting any worse, he hasn’t made it any better — unless you count a two-acre public plaza as a major get.

Twitter, predictably, responded with all the insight and nuance necessary for analyzing the deal’s complexity:

You think maybe I should borrow The Straight Dope’s tagline, now that they’re no longer using it?

One comment on “Nashville mayor agrees to revised MLS stadium deal that costs taxpayers the same $75m as before

  1. This was always about NASCAR. Notice how the Speedway company immediately put out a bubbly press release after the new deal was announced.

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