Nashville SC commits additional US$54m to overcome stadium hurdle

Nashville SC commits additional US$54m to overcome stadium hurdle
Major League Soccer (MLS) expansion franchise Nashville SC will finally be able to proceed with their new 30,000-seater stadium at the Fairgrounds after reaching a deal with City Mayor John Cooper.

Under the terms of the revised agreement, Nashville SC have agreed to privately fund 100 per cent of the stadium construction through cash investment, stadium lease payments and revenue generated at the venue, crucially eliminating taxpayer and budget burden.

The deal will essentially see Nashville SC pay US$54 million more in potential expenses, providing US$19 million to fund the infrastructure in the immediate vicinity of the stadium, while also assuming the city’s obligation to pay up to US$35 million toward lease payments.

The construction project had initially been expected to cost US$275 million, but the Tennessean says that the figure is now estimated to have risen to US$335 million.

The revised deal also includes open space between the soccer stadium and the speedway located at the Fairgrounds site. Cooper is planning to bring stock car racing series NASCAR back to Nashville, and was concerned about the impact the stadium construction could have on his own plans to redevelop the Fairgrounds Speedway racetrack.

The agreement ends a months-long standoff between Nashville SC, MLS and Cooper. The stadium project was initially approved by the city in 2017, but was then blocked by Cooper when he assumed office in September last year. The club and the league publicly criticised the mayor’s ‘continued refusal to proceed’ at the end of January and also ramped up pressure by encouraging fans to sign a petition urging Cooper to allow construction on the stadium to begin.

With Cooper’s approval now secured, Nashville SC confirmed in an official statement that the demolition process of the old facilities at the Fairgrounds will begin immediately.

“We are very happy to be moving forward with the stadium construction,” said Nashville SC Majority Owner John Ingram. “The investment we are making is not just for our soccer team, it is an investment in the future of Nashville and the Fairgrounds.”

“I’m so glad we’ve reached a better deal for Nashville,” Cooper added. “I’m grateful to Nashville Soccer Holdings and John Ingram for understanding our city’s financial realities and agreeing to pay up to $54 million in additional costs. This deal saves the taxpayers money and provides a better site plan for the Fairgrounds. Today is an exciting step forward for sports in Nashville and I’m ready for the first Nashville SC game on 29th February.”

Nashville SC will join MLS for the upcoming 2020 season and will initially play their home games at Nissan Stadium, home of the National Football League’s (NFL) Tennessee Titans, until their own venue is ready.

The club have sold more than 30,000 tickets for their opening fixture against Atlanta United, which takes place on 29th February.

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