A Nashville sportswriter this week posted documents on his website that he said proves Metro Nashville Health officials were ready last month to have fans at Nissan Stadium at the start of the season.
But Mayor John Cooper said no, according to those records.
Paul Kuharsky, who has covered the NFL for more than 20 years, this week on his website posted emails that Metro Nashville officials sent to one another. Kuharsky said he obtained these emails from the group Nashville for a Rational COVID Policy. Officials with that organization did not return The Tennessee Star’s request for comment Friday.
Tennessee Titans spokeswoman Kate Guerra said Sunday she had no information about the matter and suggested we contact the mayor’s office. No one in either the mayor’s office or the Metro Health Department returned our request for comment.
Kuharsky did not return our request for comment Sunday.
In his story, Kuharsky quoted a July 30 email from Metro Health Department Director Michael Caldwell to Cooper’s Chief of Staff Bill Phillips and Metro coronavirus Task Force Chair Alex Jahangir. Jahangir said in the e-mail exchange that they had discussed a proposal that was “consistent, if not more restrictive, than most other venues.”
“I did and still do think numbers were too high in July to make the recommendation for the end of September,” Jahangir said. “I think that the Titans plan is a good one and wished then for, and am glad now, that the community spread is much less so that they can implement the plan.”
Kuharsky quoted Cooper spokesman Chris Song as saying “there were several issues with the proposal as presented at the time” and that “Nashville’s COVID-19 progress was very different on July 31st than it is today.”
Kuharsky went on to report that “Caldwell had the authority to approve any Titans’ plan in conjunction with Cooper.” Kuharsky quoted Song as saying “the city did not want to make any sort of special exemption for professional football at the start.”
The website went on to report that The Titans originally requested 25 percent of Nissan Stadium’s capacity of 69,143.
Jahangir told Phillips of the mayor’s office that Caldwell of the health department would put his plan on paper for review and asked if further information was needed for the mayor as the Titans needed an answer soon to begin planning.
But Phillip’s reply when Caldwell presented a draft seemingly ended email conversation about the potential for fans at the Titans’ Sept. 20 home opener against Jacksonville, which was ultimately played in an empty Nissan Stadium.
Metro officials, Kuharsky reported, announced Sept. 17 that a small number of fans could come to the second home game.
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