Save Our Fairgrounds filed a lawsuit this week over Nashville Mayor Megan Barry’s proposal for a soccer stadium, mixed-used development and other amenities at the Nashville Fairgrounds, reports WKRN News 2.
Attorney Jim Roberts, vice chairman of Save Our Fairgrounds, filed the lawsuit Wednesday in Davidson County Chancery Court. The lawsuit names Metro Nashville government as the defendant. In early November, Metro Council approved funding for the plan, designed to attract a Major League Soccer (MLS) franchise.
Nashville is among four finalists for two new MLS franchises along with Cincinnati, Detroit and Sacramento. MLS is expected to make a final decision later this month.
The lawsuit alleges Barry’s proposal violates the city charter by interfering with the fairgrounds’ existing uses, including the annual state fair, flea market and auto racetrack.
As a result of past efforts to redevelop the fairgrounds, Save Our Fairgrounds collected signatures to put a referendum on the ballot in 2011 to protect existing uses. The referendum passed by 73 percent.
Barry has said existing uses would be protected and enhanced, but opponents are skeptical because of the enormity of the plans and the need for parking. The lawsuit says the area where the stadium would go is currently the midway for the state fair and part is used for the animal exhibition area. Land where Barry wants to put recreational soccer fields and a greenway is currently used for parking.
The lawsuit also takes issue with Metro government, as part of the deal, giving away land to developers to build housing, commercial and retail space, and a hotel.
In response to a request from WKRN, Barry’s office issued a statement saying that “we have not seen this lawsuit nor do we have a comment on pending litigation.” The statement further said:
As for the proposed soccer stadium, it was debated very publicly for more than a month with ample opportunities for public comment and input. The overwhelming majority of the Metro Council and the public support this project. We look forward to the MLS announcement in December as to whether Nashville will be chosen to receive an MLS franchise. If so, there will be more detailed discussions and planning with community input to ensure that construction of the stadium at the Fairgrounds positively impacts the community and existing users.