Live from Music Row Friday 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. – host Leahy welcomed Nashville attorney Jim Roberts to the newsmakers line.
At the top of the second hour, Roberts weighed in on his recent victory as the Metro government was found to be in violation of Tennessee’s Open Meeting Act statute. He contrasted his victory with the major league soccer franchise’s quest to take over Nashville Fairgrounds and described how with no contracts signed, taxpayers could get stuck with a large bill for the stadium should the MLS decided to leave.
Leahy: As a guest this morning and breaking news, our very good friend Attorney Jim Roberts. And Jim just secured a huge victory in court. He represents the group that said, this soccer stadium deal is an illegal deal. A judge last night agreed with him. And we welcome to our microphones right now as he’s driving through East Tennessee Jim Roberts. Good morning Jim.
Roberts: Good morning sir. How are you doing today?
Leahy: I’m doing well. I think from a legal victory point of view you are doing quite well also. Tell us a little bit about your legal victory yesterday in court.
Roberts: Well, yesterday was a big day. As expected the court ruled that the Metropolitan government violated a Tennessee statute called the Open Meetings Act which is designed to prevent corruption and dishonesty in government. And we had caught Metro doing that. Instead of fixing the problem, they doubled down on their dishonesty and they got shown the door yesterday.
Leahy: What happens next?
Roberts: What we caught the sports authority which is part of Metro was illegally holding a meeting. They held a meeting to approve a 192 million contract and they intentionally didn’t know the public. They now have to go back and have a full meeting and review this contract and do it like they are supposed to do it which is under the public eye and public scrutiny instead of sneaking it in at the dead of night.
Leahy: Will they do that or are they going to appeal this ruling.
Roberts: That’s an interesting question. I don’t speak for Metro. I think they would be unwise to appeal it. The problem they have though is with the company they handed this contract to secretly has been accused in all sorts of criminal bid-rigging and criminal behavior. It will be interesting to see if the sports authority really wants to get back in business with a company that is so tainted.
Leahy: Now what’s the name of this company.
Roberts: It’s called Mortenson’s. Mortenson was on the Denver city convention center expansion project and they got kicked off last December for fraud and bid-rigging with another participant. Pretty much all of their corporate folks got indicted criminally. They did some pretty dishonest things. The question is do we want to bring these people to Nashville and let them be part of our projects.
Leahy: What is the relationship between this vote and the major league soccer franchise that’s coming to Nashville?
Roberts: This is all part of it. MLS wants to come in and take control of our fairgrounds and they want to take control of the entire fairgrounds and basically run everybody off. They are using John Ingram as a sort of frontman locally to get the team here. This is all part of the litigation to stop that. We really don’t want to see the fairgrounds destroyed for no good reason. So this is one part of the litigation. Having caught them doing something dishonest, the fight continues.
Leahy: What will the major league soccer franchise do now? They don’t have a home. They don’t have a soccer game being planned. What impact will that have on the National Major League soccer franchise?
Roberts: You have to understand there are no signed contracts. Major league soccer has made no promise to Nashville. At best they promised to allow a Nashville business to host games. The decision of where those games are played is still MLS’s. We have no control over that.
They can decide to play for one year and they can move the team to Birmingham next year and we would have no control over that. We’d be left with a half-a-billion-dollar stadium to pay for. This is why it’s a bad deal. The MLS controls everything and Nashville has no rights and no protection while the taxpayers take all the risk. For some reason, the Metro government thinks this is a good idea.
Leahy: Will the major league soccer franchise move now?
Roberts: It’s hard to know. they can do anything they want. It is completely controlled by MLS. MLS has made no promises to Nashville. There are no guarantees that they will stay or even come here. All we really know is that a Nashville company has got the right to put on games. We don’t know where those games are going to be.
Leahy: Jim Roberts, congratulations on your victory. Come back and tell us more.
Listen to the full second hour here:
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