Reason Magazine notes that Nashville Megan Barry’s vigorous support for the propose publicly subsidized $225 million soccer stadium represents a complete about face from the position she took when she was a member of the Nashville Metro Council.
“Megan Barry used to oppose public subsidies for professional sports, but now she’s a cheerleader,” the libertarian publication notes:
When the Nashville Metro Council extended tax breaks to the Nashville Predators, a financially struggling pro hockey team, a councilwoman named Megan Barry was skeptical that the deal was in the public’s best interest.
“Is Nashville a better place with the Predators?” she said on the council floor before voting against the proposal. “Probably. But I’m not voting on that question. I’m voting on whether further public subsidies for this particular for-profit enterprise represents good public policy. And I’m going to vote no.”
But that was in 2008. Now that Barry is the mayor of Nashville, she’s become the lead cheerleader for subsidizing a new Major League Soccer stadium.
A more cost effective alternative, Reason argues, is the existing Nissan Stadium, home to the NFL’s Tennessee Titans.
“If Nissan Stadium is good enough for world-class soccer teams, surely it’s good enough for Major League Soccer,” Reason observes.
The primary beneficiaries of the $200 million the city would borrow to fund the stadium would be the two billionaire owners of the proposed MLS team, who would put up a mere $25 million of their own, the magazine argues:
The second thing that deserves more scrutiny is the ownership of the proposed Nashville team, which includes two billionaires. One of them is John Ingram, one of the heirs to an estimated $15 billion fortune, according to Bloomberg. The Ingram family helped bankroll Barry’s 2015 mayoral campaign.
The other billionaire in the bid is Zygi Wilf, who Forbes estimates is worth $5.3 billion. This game is old hat for Wilf, who successfully swindled the taxpayers of Minneapolis out of nearly $500 million to build a new glass palace for his football team, the Minnesota Vikings. These are, clearly, not the type of people who should be receiving welfare from the taxpayers of Nashville.
For what it’s worth, Barry acknowledges her flip-flop and says she would have supported the earlier stadium deal if she could vote for it today. Still, when it comes time to vote on the new deal, the current members of the Nashville Metro Council should consider reading Barry’s own words back to her.
Nashville Metro Council could vote on Mayor Barry’s proposed plan to subsidize the $225 million MLS soccer stadium as soon as October 17.