NASHVILLE, Tenn. (WKRN) — Leading up to a crucial vote on the more than $2 billion Titans stadium deal, councilmembers will discuss last-minute changes to the deal they hope will give more money to city priorities.
“The stakes? They are pretty high,” said Councilman Freddie O’Connell. “It’s the biggest deal in Metro history.”
Therefore, while some city leaders say there is little to nothing that can be done to change the deal to win their vote, others see an opportunity.
“What we heard from residents at the last council meeting was we need to put more focus on revenue towards the needs of our citizens. The priorities of our citizens: affordable housing, infrastructure, transportation,” said Councilwoman Jennifer Gamble.
Gamble is proposing a change to an amendment narrowly passed at the most recent meeting.
That amendment by Councilman Brandon Taylor would establish a 3% tax on tickets for non-NFL events happening at the stadium. However, that 3% would go up by one percentage point every year until it reaches a cap of 10%.
It is similar to a rental fee that will go to a city fund focused on infrastructure, transportation, and affordable housing.
Gamble and other council members that the reaction for the Titans, the Nashville tourism industry and other stakeholders were swift and strong.
“We started to hear from organizations from the SCC and others that felt that a 10% escalation of a scaling fee would make it prohibitive for many organizations to afford to come to Nashville and have events at that stadium,” Gamble said. “And would pass that onto the users.”
Gamble is proposing a change to that amendment that would keep the fee at 3% and also exclude groups like TSU and the CMAs from being subject to that fee.
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However, other council members disagree with where the revenue from that 3% fee should go, what areas that money should go to, and whether or not they will be able to get more concessions from the Titans considering they were more receptive to the 3% fee.
“It showed us that we can stand our ground on something but also be able to negotiate and make sure we are doing a better job in taking care of our constituencies,” said Councilwoman Sharon Hurt.
Hurt supports the deal but explains that her main reason for voting for it is because she thinks the city’s obligations to the Titans under the pre-existing lease would be costly.
“If there’s no development, we don’t have affordable housing, we don’t have attainable housing, we don’t have the things our constituents want,” Hurt said.
Hurt and others did say that they wish they had more time to debate the amendments and possible changes. They added that they feel they are being rushed into making a final decision on a multi-billion dollar deal.
If the deal is approved on Tuesday, it will need one more vote from Metro Council before being passed, but no more changes will be allowed.