Live from Music Row Tuesday morning on The Tennessee Star Report with Michael Patrick Leahy – broadcast on Nashville’s Talk Radio 98.3 and 1510 WLAC weekdays from 5:00 a.m. to 8:00 a.m. – Leahy welcomed in-studio guest Melissa Smithson, Chairman of the Davidson County Republican Party to the show.
During the first segment, Smithson updated Leahy on the current depositions taking place in regard to the usage of the Nashville Fairgrounds. Specifically, she noted that light has been shone on how many of the board members were negligent and unknowledgeable of the law, which has allegedly led to manipulated land grab.
Leahy: Just joining us now, making the fun of the party, Melissa Smithson, Chairman of the Republican Party in Davidson County. And an all-star panelist with The Tennessee Star Report. Good morning Melissa.
Smithson: Good morning. Good morning gentlemen.
Roberts: Good morning. It’s good to see you. I haven’t seen you since the campaign season. And I’ve never been on the radio with Melissa before I don’t think. Did we ever do a radio show before?
Smithson: No. No. But I’m excited about today.
Leahy: It’s a little snappy here. And we’re kind of pushing the edge. But that’s what we do. Melissa, you come in and tell us about a little bit about this very interesting story about the Nashville Fairgrounds. What’s the latest on that? There was a lawsuit. There are all sorts of controversy. The new mayor is involved in it. What’s the latest on the Nashville Fairgrounds?
Smithson: I can tell you from the perspective of the lawsuit, Save our Fairgrounds and others that we are still in the process of doing depositions. And it’s amazing without really disclosing a lot what is coming out. And some of the lack of knowledge of people who are actually on the board and that work there.
Leahy: Is that public yet? What’s coming out?
Smithson: It’s not public yet. Hope to be soon. Like I said we’re still in the middle of that, and we’re uncovering quite a bit. And you know, the season is about to start for the fairgrounds.
Leahy: Let’s bring our listeners up to speed on this. What is the issue? There is a desire to have this new franchise of Major League Soccer come in and the owners, which include Senator John Ingram. A wealthy guy here in town.
Leahy: And I think the guy who owns the Minnesota Vikings.
Leahy: Yeah. So they’ve combined together and got the franchise. Somehow, in my view, they manipulated the law to get 10 acres of the fairgrounds.
Leahy: And it seems like to not be consistent or allowed by the law. They want to build a stadium there. What’s going on now?
Smithson: A land grab is basically what’s going on.
Leahy: And I would characterize it as a questionably legal land grab going on by this group. But their season starts, they have the franchise. Do they have no place to play?
Smithson: Oh, they have a wonderful place to play on the East Bank called the Nissan Stadium.
Roberts: Hold on. We’ve got Nissan Stadium where the Titans play. It’s a beautiful big stadium. I think when the taxpayers in Davidson County approved it and the state by the way also kicked in some money. When they approved it, didn’t they say that it could be used for both football and soccer?
Leahy: State Senator Kerry Roberts.
Roberts: I thought when you build a football stadium that only a professional football team is allowed to step on the field? Isn’t that part of the deal? Isn’t that like righteous grass or something? But they don’t want anybody else on the field.
Leahy: But the state said it could be used for either.
Roberts: It’s like a church auditorium that’s used on Sunday. Put the thing to good use. We’ve got this beautiful facility. I don’t get it. I totally don’t get it. But you know what, follow the money. There’s got to be another reason for it somewhere. But you know what, it’s not about public policy. It’s about people’s agendas and what they want. And it’s ridiculous. It’s absolutely ridiculous.
Leahy: So they will have a place to play then at Nissan Stadium.
Smithson: Yeah, for at least a couple of years.
Roberts: So what is the difference between the size of a soccer field and a football field.
Leahy: About the same aren’t they?
Smithson: Yeah, maybe a little bit smaller. But plenty to use.
Roberts: OK. I didn’t know. I was never a soccer enthusiast. Whatever.
Leahy: So what’s going to happen here? What would be so terribly awful if this new major soccer franchise just permanently had a home at Nissan Stadium?
Roberts: I think it would be a great idea. That whole area could be continued to develop as a sports area and entertainment venue. Its something we ought to be proud of. I just don’t see why to go to another. But Melissa, you hit the nail on the head. Land grab. It’s all about development and an area where property values are low and trying to exercise eminent domain to take them over.
Listen to the third hour here:
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Tune in weekdays from 5:00 – 8:00 am to the Tennessee Star Report with Michael Patrick Leahy on Talk Radio 98.3 FM WLAC 1510. Listen online at iHeart Radio.
Photo “Melissa Smithson” by Melissa Smithson. Background Photo “Nashville Fairgrounds Sign” by Nashville Fairgrounds.