By Ben Wright (@benwright), editor.
NASHVILLE, TN - Nashville Mayor John Cooper and Nashville SC lead owner John Ingram announced Thursday morning that they have agreed to an amendment to the deal for the soccer stadium at the Fairgrounds. Under the terms of the revised agreement, Nashville SC will fund 100% of the stadium construction through a mix of private cash investment, lease payments and stadium revenues. Crucially, the deal includes a statement of principles that include open space between the soccer stadium and the speedway, which has been the center of renovation discussions. Mayor Cooper has authorized Metro to begin demolition immediately, making way for construction to begin on the stadium.
“We are very happy to be moving forward with the stadium construction,” said John Ingram in the club's press release. “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. 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,” said Mayor Cooper. “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 February 29th.”
Mayor Cooper released a full statement on Twitter, saying "I expect work to start on the soccer stadium project in a matter of days."
From the club's press release, the revised deal will contain the following elements:
The team will pay for infrastructure in the immediate vicinity of the stadium estimated to be $19 million.
The team will assume metro’s obligation to pay up to $35 Million toward lease payments.
The team has agreed to a general statement of principles for parcel 8C in the 10 acre mixed-use development to account for an open plaza that can serve the operational needs of multiple Fairgrounds uses.
Metro has authorized initiation of the demolition contract and will proceed with the demolition process immediately.
Nashville SC is set to play at Nissan Stadium for their first two seasons in Major League Soccer while the stadium was built, but the delays surrounding the negotiations raised fears that the stadium opening would be delayed. Parcel 8C was at the heart of the delay, as Mayor Cooper wanted the space for a plaza connecting the racetrack and soccer stadium, while Ingram and Nashville Soccer Holdings viewed the parcel as a necessity to fulfill the club's side of the Community Benefits Agreement.
In recent weeks, Nashville SC mounted a public pressure campaign, with a Build The Stadium petition and social media campaign to raise awareness of the team and the stadium conflict.
The newly announced agreement paves the way for Nashville SC to begin construction on the stadium in time to open ahead of the 2022 MLS stadium, and alleviates fears that MLS could consider relocating the franchise.
Nashville SC begins their 2020 season in 16 days, hosting Atlanta United on February 29.