The board of the Nashville Fairgrounds will hold a special meeting this evening to discuss plans for a soccer stadium, and the group Save Our Fairgrounds is encouraging a large turnout.
Mayor Megan Barry wants the fairgrounds to be the site for a new Major League Soccer stadium.
Save Our Fairgrounds says plans for the stadium and additional soccer fields could jeopardize the flea market, race track and state fair. They might also violate the Metro Charter, the group says.
The meeting will take place from 5:30 p.m. to 7:30 p.m. in the Creative Arts Building at the fairgrounds, and will include an in-depth presentation from the MLS2 Nashville Soccer Committee. The agenda allows time for public comments.
“Attending this meeting is imperative to listen to the proposal and voice your concerns about the park and stadium,” Save Our Fairgrounds said on its Facebook page.
Barry has wanted to attract a Major League Soccer expansion team to Nashville and on Monday unveiled details of her plan.
The 27,500-seat stadium would cost $250 million but 90 percent of its funding would come from private dollars and revenues generated at the stadium, Barry said. John Ingram would be the lead investor.
Funding would come from $200 million in revenue bonds, $25 million in cash from the MLS ownership group, and $25 million in Metro general obligation bonds to pay for public infrastructure. The MLS ownership group would cover lease payments used for debt service of the revenue bonds and pay any construction cost overruns.
Critics say taxpayers shouldn’t be on the hook for any of it, or that at the very least a referendum should be held before any taxpayer dollars are used.
Opponents maintain Barry is taking on too many projects, which include promotion of a $6 billion regional transit plan. Barry is committed to placing a referendum on the ballot next year to win support for using tax dollars for commuter trains and rapid buses to be phased in over 25 years.
Critics are also concerned that cost estimates for the soccer stadium might be off and the project in reality could cost a lot more.
In addition, there is the concern about preserving current uses of the fairgrounds, even though Barry said all existing uses would be honored and improved.
Barry’s plan also calls for Metro Nashville to allow the MLS ownership group to lease about 10 acres of land at the fairgrounds to support mixed-use, mixed income development that would include affordable and workforce housing.