NASHVILLE, Tenn. (WKRN) — A bill that would give the state a say in who sits on Nashville’s Sports Authority Board passed through the Government Operations Committee Monday in what some opponents have called an attack on Nashville government.
The Nashville mayor currently appoints all 13 members to the city’s Sports Authority Board, which is tasked with acquiring, repairing, maintaining, and operating Nashville’s professional sports stadiums.
House Bill 1197 would give the mayor authority to appoint three members to the board, and the state would select the remaining 10.
The bill’s sponsor, Rep. Ryan Williams (R-Cookeville), told lawmakers during a committee hearing Monday since the state promised to contribute $500 million toward the new, $2.1 billion Titans stadium, it deserves a seat at the table.
“This body has to approve any of the resources associated with state revenues; it doesn’t matter which authority it is,” Williams said. “What makes this project a little bit different with the Titans stadium is that we’re issuing a tax incentive program to allow the revenues to stay there, but we’re also issuing a large amount of debt of which there’s no appointed fiduciary from the state in order to do that.”
Williams said the Nashville Sports Authority has “done a good job,” and the bill is not a way to retaliate against Metro Council after it voted down a draft agreement to host the 2024 Republican National Convention last August. He added the bill’s timing is purely coincidental.
Despite that, opponents of the bill said it seems to single out Nashville.
Others believe since the city pays for the Nashville Sports Authority and supports all sports stadium bonds taken out by the Sports Authority, it should maintain control over appointing its members.
One Davidson County resident, who said he was not paid for his testimony and is not a lobbyist, urged lawmakers to strike the bill down.
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“I don’t think this bill is necessary,” said Bill Bradley, who lives in Davidson County. “The Sports Authority has followed the rules. Nobody has implied different than that. There’s no need for a home run today. With this bill, you can call the game over.”
The Government Operations Committee ultimately voted to advance HB 1197, which will be presented to the Calendar and Rules Committee on a later date.