New Titans Lease Has ‘First-Class’ Clause That Led to $1.829 Billion City Obligation Claim

Nissan Stadium
by Jon Styf


A “first-class” condition requirement was at the forefront of Tennessee Titans Chief Executive Officer Burke Nihill claiming Metro Nashville would owe $1.839 billion in renovation costs at Nissan Stadium.

But a new lease agreement with the team for a new estimated $2.1 billion stadium, set to open in 2026, would also include a similar “first-class” requirement. The final documents were released publicly Wednesday before they are scheduled to receive a first reading at Tuesday’s Metro Nashville Council meeting.

The documents also define a 130-acre sales tax capture zone around the stadium, which is set to receive a record $1.26 billion in public funding for construction but will also receive ongoing tax funds that will both pay for Nashville Sports Authority bonds on construction but also will be used to pay to keep the new stadium in “first-class” condition.

The city must “maintain the Stadium as a safe, clean, attractive, and first-class facility reasonably comparable to the Comparable NFL Facilities (with due consideration given to the remaining term of this Lease (and to the remaining term of the lease of any Comparable NFL Facility, to the extent applicable) and to any unique market conditions (such as climate, surrounding landscape, local laws and regulations and any requirement to serve as the home venue for other professional, collegiate or amateur sports teams)) and in a manner that is consistent with requirements imposed by the NFL and Applicable Law.”

In the Titans’ first lease in Nashville, similar improvements were required to be paid the Metro Nashville government while the new lease has those payments coming from a tax fund, which is projected to collect $2.9 billion over the 30-year lease term, and backstopped by the Titans.

East Bank Stadium Committee Chair Bob Mendes noted that, during the stadium negotiation process, both the Titans and Metro Nashville Mayor’s Office claimed the Titans would pay for future stadium improvements and repairs and the new deal would take Metro “off the hook” but that isn’t true.

“It is also important to mention that the spin job from May through October – the claim that the Titans will pay for future stadium improvements – is still largely viewed as true still today even though the administration and the team pivoted months ago to the ‘backstop’ talking point,” Mendes wrote. “The bottom line is that the stadium deal will rely on hundreds of millions of dollars of public tax dollars for future stadium improvements, with those public funds being administered by the team.”

The lease notes SoFi Stadium, home of the Los Angeles Rams and Chargers, will not be considered a comparable facility.

Instead, comparable facility is defined as a “premier, first-class, multipurpose sports stadiums incorporating, at the time of initial construction or material renovation, technological innovations, environmental sustainability considerations, and other best practices in design, construction, and ultimate operations, in which NFL teams regularly play their games and that are of comparable size and age, adjusted to reflect any material renovations, as the Stadium.”

The city also was required to draw a 130-acre zone adjacent to the stadium that will have 50% of its local and state sales taxes captured and put into the $2.9 billion fund.

That zone was drawn between Interstate 24 and the Cumberland River with Sylvan Street and Korean Veterans Boulevard as borders on one side and James Robertson Parkway and North 1st Street as borders on the other side. Current property owners in that zone include Howerton Associates, the Metro Sports Authority, 200 Main Partners, Pinnacle Woodland Street, 7-Eleven, Continental Inns, Crafco, Parkway Associates and TLC Properties.

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Jon Styf is an award-winning editor and reporter of The Center Square who has worked in Illinois, Texas, Wisconsin, Florida and Michigan in local newsrooms over the past 20 years, working for Shaw Media, Hearst and several other companies.




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5 Thoughts to “New Titans Lease Has ‘First-Class’ Clause That Led to $1.829 Billion City Obligation Claim”

  1. Phyllis

    The voters in Nashville lost all their power when Phil Bredesen was drafted to move to Nashville to run for Mayor with the help of John Seiganthaler ( (owner of the Nashville Tennessean). His first mission was to weaken the Power of the Metro Council (the Peoples Voice). He did that through a huge Public Relations effort with help once again from John Seiganthaler to convince the Voters to vote in mandatory term limits on the Council members. The voters fell for it hook, line & sinker. The Power to Hire (Vote) good Representatives into office & keep them there as long as they serve their constituents as they promised; or fire that person if he/she does not perform as promised. Now there is absolutely no incentive for persons to work their butts off, bc they know they are only in there for a very short time. Now they have to bargain with the Mayor to get anything done in their district rather than the Mayor negotiating with the Council members for their vote.
    For those who dont remember, Council members used to be able to call Dept Heads directly, in order to get a pot hole fixed. But after mand term limits started, the Mayor issued an edict to all Dept Heads telling them they are not allowed to talk to any Council members. The result is Council now has to go through Mayor’s office for requests. If they vote right they may get a phone call returned.
    Bottom line Mandatory Term Limits on the Legislative Branch does not work in the Peoples favor. So don’t fall for the spin. It’s the Electorates job to hold their elected Representatives accountable. Just bc someone else’s Rep doesn’t vote the way you want doesn’t give you the right to fire my Rep. The ecetorate has become lazy, & they want someone else to ” FIX” their problem for them. DON’T MESS WITH THE CONSTITUTION. LOCAL, STATE OR FEDERAL.

  2. Gwyn Guess

    This is really showing the growing influence and power of Corporatism to usurp public money to enrich its own coffers and frankly, it’s up to the public to peel away the deceptiveness of this by speaking LOUDLY at local meetings, etc. Citizens of Nashville mustt Demand the renovations pay for themselves. Simple? yes. but hard work and determination is what will hold our representatives to their oaths of office.

  3. Joe Blow

    I would say that this is unbelievable BUT we have all seen this type of government stupidity (graft) regarding stadiums since Moby Dick was a minnow. It always sticks it to the taxpayer while the “business” reaps boundless profits.

  4. John Bumpus

    So, it looks like Metro Nashville will ‘do it’ again? If one plays ‘stupid’ games, one wins ‘stupid’ prizes! ‘Stupid’ has been defined as doing the same thing over and over again, but each new time expecting a different result! And the State of Tennessee is allowing/facilitating it all! Unbelievable!

  5. Randy

    These people must have been indoctrinated in public schools. Re-writing or erasing history so you can claim ignorance of what happened before does not excuse bad behavior. It ain’t free if the government is footing the bill.