Nashville to explore cost of upgrading Titans stadium, Predators arena

The city of Nashville is considering spending $355,000 to assess the condition of the Tennessee Titans and Nashville Predators‘ venues, to determine what future maintenance and upgrade costs are likely to look like:

It comes as Metro is on the hook for up to $11 million to pay for a range of maintenance upgrades over the coming years to fulfill the city’s contractual obligation to the Tennessee Titans under a 1997 stadium deal that lured the NFL’s Houston Oilers to relocate to Nashville. That figure is on top of the $15 million Metro spent this past year to cover a replacement of all seats inside the 18-year-old stadium…

“I think if we have a benchmark (on costs) to start with, I think it will give us all a comfort-level, and then we can get into the political discussion about how we’re going to pay for it and what the best options are going forward,” [Nashville Chief Operating Officer Rich] Riebeling said.

“We’re seeing the obligations grow and we know that,” he said of Nissan Stadium. “This isn’t going to change. It’s an older building. You look around and it’s hard to believe that it’s getting on 20 years old, but it is. So we’ve got to start thinking about this.”

On the one hand, this is a perfectly reasonably thing to do: If you’re on the hook for future building upgrades, you probably should be thinking about what they’re going to be before the bills come due — and even, maybe, thinking about whether it’d be cheaper to replace the building than to repair it. (Almost certainly not, but it’s worth looking into.)

On the other hand: Who on earth thought it was a good idea for Nashville to be on the hook for future upgrades to their sports teams’ venues? In the normal world, either one of two things happens when a building is built: Either the people who are actually getting use out of the place own or operate it, and have to pay when the seats wear out and they want new ones; or the owners charge increased rent to cover the cost of upgrades. Nashville did raise ticket taxes in recent years to help pay for venue improvement funds — and as we’ve discussed before, ticket taxes mostly end up coming out of team owners’ pockets — but that’s not quite the same as actually getting to pass along the costs of upgrading buildings that are of zero use to the public if nobody’s playing there.

Anyway, let’s hope that this is a legit study, and not just a gambit for somebody to start arguing, “Hey, the Titans’ stadium is almost 20 years old, let’s build a new one, or at least do major renovations on the public’s dime!” But that never happens, right?

Titans, Bills seek stadium renovations

Another day, another NFL team asking for stadium upgrades. Today it’s the Tennessee Titans, who are seeking renovations to 12-year-old LP Field:

Upgrades to everything between and underneath must be examined before the Bills and Erie County can move forward on a lease extension.

The Bills hired Populous, an architectural firm based in Kansas City, Mo., to conduct an exhaustive study of Ralph Wilson Stadium’s infrastructure. The study will determine how much necessary improvements will cost.

Wait, hold on, wrong article! That one is about how the Buffalo Bills, who are seeking renovations to their field, 38-year-old Ralph Wilson Stadium, which was just renovated in 1997. The Titans are seeking $25 million in upgrades to the sound system, scoreboards, and concessions areas; the Bills want an estimated $100 million or more in improvements to concourses, restrooms, and concessions areas, among other things.

Also likely different is how the two teams plan to pay for upgrades. The Titans are looking to use an already existing ticket tax, which they would raise from $2 to $3 — something that largely comes out of their own pockets, say economists, since it limits the price that they can get away with charging fans in face value. Bills execs, meanwhile, haven’t said who’ll pay for improvements, but it’s clear it wouldn’t be them:

“Cost is an unknown and could be in a wide range,” Erie County Executive Chris Collins said. “I’m expecting New York State to pay for these improvements. But you can’t sit down and have meaningful negotiations until this study is complete.”

The difference: The Titans are in the middle of their lease, while the Bills’ current lease with Erie County expires next year, giving them leverage to demand subsidies or else move to Toronto or Los Angeles or someplace like that. (Not that anyone from the Bills would threaten that aloud, but there are plenty of other people to do it for them.) So we have the prospect of Jets and Giants fans (and, um, me) helping to pay for improvements to their rivals’ stadium.

The hope would be that the Bills would at least agree to share some of their increased profits with taxpayers in the new lease in exchange for renovations, but I really wouldn’t be holding my breath there, unless some savvy negotiators in the state legislature can … er, never mind.

Nashville flood sinks arena, stadium

For some reason the Great Nashville Flood has been getting short shrift in the national media compared to the Great Gulf Coast Oil Slick and the Great Times Square SUV Bomb With Non-Exploding Fertilizer — though the flood does have its own website, so that’s something.

In any event, among the buildings that are currently part of the Cumberland River are the homes of the Tennessee Titans and Nashville Predators: LP Field (named for, um, the Titans’ favorite form of analog audio media? man, these naming-rights deals are a gold mine for corporate publicity!) has had its field submerged, while Bridgestone Arena has had its dressing rooms and arena floor submerged.

Both buildings are owned by the city and Davidson County, though the arena is operated by the Predators. I haven’t seen any reporting yet on who’ll be responsible to pay for cleanup, though you have to hope that somebody involved had flood insurance.