Nashville’s Metro Sports Authority has approved issuing revenue bonds for construction of a soccer stadium at the Nashville Fairgrounds.
The sports authority approved a resolution Thursday, reports WKRN News 2. The project still must be approved by Metro Council, which will vote on the proposal Nov. 7. The council will hold a public hearing at 6 p.m. Oct. 24 in the Creative Arts Building at the fairgrounds.
The resolution approved Thursday would allow the sports authority to issue up to $225 million in revenue bonds for the 27,500-seat stadium if Metro Council also signs off on the project. The project would cost a total of $250 million.
Mayor Megan Barry’s proposal for the stadium is controversial because of the costs and also because of how it might impact existing activities at the fairgrounds. Barry, a progressive Democrat, wants to entice a Major League Soccer expansion team to come to Nashville. MLS will make a decision in December. Her proposal also involves opening up 10 acres at the fairgrounds to mixed-used development that would include affordable housing.
Monica Fawknotson, executive director of the sports authority, told WKRN that the stadium is “an incredible opportunity for the city” and that “there are a lot of opportunities for the stadium outside of soccer.”
While Barry portrays the stadium funding as a private-public partnership with the public responsible for only 10 percent, critics say the public could end up footing the bill for a lot more than that if the stadium does not generate the expected revenue. They also fear construction cost overruns.
Metro Councilman Steve Glover told WKRN he believes that as with the new stadium for the Nashville Sounds minor league baseball team that opened in 2015, the soccer stadium would end up costing more than planned.
Last week, 150 people turned out for a meeting at the fairgrounds held by the fair board at which many raised critical questions about the proposal or railed against it.
The Davidson County Republican Party is urging conservatives to support the local party chapter in its efforts to raise questions about the soccer stadium and other projects and problems that have arisen under Barry’s leadership.
“With all the news lately regarding spending on an MLS Stadium, the tax increase for transit, soaring property values, the resurgence of building a Flood Wall downtown, the crime wave to name a few, our city is changing and not in a good direction,” the party chapter posted on Facebook Thursday. “We ask you to join us in the fight to bring conservative leadership to this city, to stop the spending and overbearing debt, and the citizens of Nashville to truly have a voice.”