Live from Music Row Thursday 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 all-star panelist and The Epoch Times’ Editor-at-Large Roger Simon in-studio to weigh in on the billion-dollar Titans Stadium renovation to enclose the stadium and appropriate a percentage of profits to an already failing public school system.
Leahy: There are a couple of local issues I want to chat with Roger Simon about. So Roger…
Simon: I’m known as Old Hickory now.
Leahy: You’ve been here long enough, compared to some of the candidates in the 5th.
Simon: I think I’m going to run for governor because if you do a syllogism, they’re all running for just lower offices. Now that I’ve been almost four years, I should be able to run for the government.
Leahy: Well, you got three more years to wait because according to the Constitution, you have to be here seven years. But you could run for state Senate. You could run for the U.S. House.
Simon: I was at the state Senate yesterday looking down at them from the balcony. And, Jack, if you’re still listening, you have more hair than I do. (Leahy chuckles)
Leahy: You were down there doing a little research for your great book Southbound Train coming up. I can’t wait to read that.
Simon: Well, I can’t wait to write it. (Laughter) I do want to say there’s a great comment about that from Dorothy Parker, who made great comments about everything.
Leahy: Tell our listeners who Dorothy Parker was.
Simon: An absolutely brilliant, wild woman of the 1920s. She wrote a lot of great stuff. She said it’s lousy to write, but great to have written.
Leahy: Exactly. I can empathize with that. By the way, when you go to the Tennessee General Assembly and you look at what the state Senate is like versus what the House of Representatives is like, these are two totally different animals, aren’t they?
Simon: No doubt.
Leahy: You got the staid state Senate where it’s all calm and under control, and then you go over to – because there are 33 members there, and it looks almost like an old-fashioned club, that chamber.
Leahy: Then you go to House of Representatives and it’s like it’s wild! But it’s got that feel to it.
Simon: Yes. You can tell from the structure.
Leahy: This is why we have a bicameral state legislature and the bicameral United States. Only one state has a unicameral state legislature, and that is Nebraska. I was watching Benjamin Franklin, who wanted unicameral legislation. I watched the PBS little special on Ben Franklin. Interestingly enough, that was one of his ideas that I think was a mistake. The unicameral thing was bad.
Simon: I’m for the bicameral.
Leahy: Bicameral is good. You have to have the impulses of the Democratic populism of the House. A little bit more constraint of the Senate. That’s a good check and balance. So your book is in progress.
Leahy: And again, it will be kind of fun to watch. There is an interesting example. I suppose this might be something to look at in your book. The Tennessee Titans want a new stadium because it was built and brought in by taxpayer bonds in 1999 here.
And 23 years later, just isn’t good enough for them. They want a bigger, better one. They want a dome stadium. They say they’re going to spend $2 billion. Now in Los Angeles, they built a $5 billion SoFi Stadium.
Entirely privately funded. That’s not the model they want to build here. They want basically the Titans family. Amy Adams Strunk, who is the majority owner right now, the daughter of Bud Adams, says they’ll put up $700 million.
They want the state to do a bond of $500 million. And then somehow the city, which is virtually bankrupt, has a decrepit water system that’s 100 years old, has unfunded liabilities all over the place and a disastrous underperforming public school system.
They want the city to come up with $700 or $800 million.
Simon: I think it’s ridiculous, I agree with you. And for another reason, I think. This is a big tourist city. And what people come here for is not necessarily Titans games.
I mean, Titans games are fun. I go myself, I’m a Titans fan. But, what they come here for is the music. And in the four years I’ve lived here, I’ve watched the deterioration of the area. Not the music – the music is great – but the area around the hockey stadium, it’s more dangerous to be down there. It’s dirtier. There are more homeless. In that area, money should be spent because it’s a unique thing in the world, not only in the United States.
Leahy: It is the epitome of American popular musical culture.
Simon: Absolutely. Right.
Leahy: The origin of it.
Simon: The fact that the new African American music museum is there is great, country music museum. great. All of these things. There’s nothing like it in the whole planet. And that should be the shining light of Nashville.
Leahy: There are a lot of NFL stadiums around. A lot of publicly funded stadiums around.
Simon: The other thing is we got a huge traffic problem. A couple of nights ago, I tried to go downtown, or even when I went, as we were saying, to watch the Senate, I got downtown in 10 minutes and then it took me 15 minutes to go three blocks.
Leahy: If you want to avoid traffic. I have the answer to avoiding traffic. Leave your house at 4:15 in the morning. (Laughs) That will do it.
Simon: Listen, I admire you as a broadcaster, but I don’t admire your hours.
Leahy: Now, one of the arguments brought forward and we wanted to kind of analyze this is, and this is a similar argument that was brought up when the first bond offering and the city involvement of it, the state bond and then the city financing of the original stadium that still exists, Nissan Stadium that they’re planning.
At the time, Mayor Bredesen made the argument that, well, this would be good for K-12 public education. There will be some money coming out of it.
Now if you look at any measurement of the performance of Metro Nashville Public Schools, since 1999, I don’t think you can make an arrow that can go that far down! Such an arrow.
Simon: It’s a national trend, to be fair to them. But it’s a national trend that should be going the other way. I’m one of those people that doesn’t think education improves with money spent on it.
Listen to the interview:
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Tune in weekdays from 5:00 – 8:00 a.m. to The Tennessee Star Report with Michael Patrick Leahy on Talk Radio 98.3 FM WLAC 1510. Listen online at iHeart Radio.