Updated: Jun 26
By John Sloop.
If the discourse of tonight’s “MLS Stadium Neighborhood Meeting” is any indication, the project is being carried out with the local neighborhood, as well as Nashville in general, firmly in mind.
On Wednesday evening, there was a virtual “MLS Stadium Neighborhood Meeting” featuring District 17 Councilman Colby Sledge, Deputy Nashville Mayor Bill Phillips, representatives from Nashville Soccer Club, Fairgrounds Nashville, Sports Authority and Mortenson Messer, the construction team. The Webex meeting included a walk through of the stadium construction timeline and ongoing neighborhood interaction through a Q and A session. The meeting was pulled together by Sledge, whom Deputy Mayor Bill Phillips referred to as a “true neighborhood councilman.”
As the meeting opened, the club made it clear that the point of the meeting was to be as transparent with the community as possible and to allow feedback from the Wedgewood Houston neighborhood.
Bill Phillips, Deputy Mayor, thanked the audience for participating in “ground level democracy,” calling this “an exciting time for your neighborhood.” He noted the excitement that the stadium, the Fairgrounds, the Flea Market and the open spaces will make this a great draw for the entire city of Nashville. Phillips assured those in attendance that Mayor Cooper wanted the location utilized for a wide variety of purposes, including walks and picnics.
Laura Womack, Executive Director of the Fairgrounds, noted that it has been 30 months to the day since the changes to the fairground began with Fair Park, then the new buildings for the flea market. The stadium is the next and largest portion of this change. Monica Fawknotson, Executive Director of the Metro Sports Authority, the “owner” of the stadium, also expressed her excitement.
Mary Cavarra, Representative of Nashville SC Ownership, recommitted the club’s desire to be a good neighbor. Ian Ayre, Chief Executive Officer of NSC, pointed out that this would not only be the largest stadium in MLS (again, 30,000 seats), but that it would be multipurpose, built in Nashville, by Nashvillians and for Nashville. He stressed that the stadium would be built with multiple events, eclectic food and a wide variety of beers in mind. The stadium will be “uniquely Nashville,” and, given that we “are building the biggest house in the neighborhood,” they are committed to having it add to the beauty of the neighborhood.
Mortenson Messer, the construction team, was represented by Trevor DeLong, construction superintendent, who will oversee the entire project, Mieah Turner, the construction manager, Shanae Phillips and Carol Greenlee, who are working directly with the local community, and Michael Carter, Principal. Carter stressed that at least $60 million would be working with companies owned by woman and underrepresented minorities.
The presentation included maps of how construction equipment would go in and out of the area, as well as where crews would park. The project is using the same earthwork contractor who worked on the Expo Buildings to take away 400,000 cubic yards of soil and rock. The blasting schedule and warnings are following the same plan that worked with the neighborhood earlier, with all blasting taking place between 9 and 3 PM, through the end of August (there will be more blasting on the front end of that timeline than the latter). The firm invited neighbors to drop in to discuss concerns at the worksite.
Shanae Phillips noted that the goal was to have 30 % small/women-owned/minority-owned firms and 22% people of color/women workforce. Also, they are doing targeted outreached to the community and have dedicated resources to assure this.
Cristina Maíllo Belda, the Communication Director of Nashville SC, said that the club was launching www.NashvilleSCstadium.com to provide weekly updates on the building, FAQs, stadium progress, and weekly mailing updates. Finally, NSC will hold monthly meetings with the neighborhood.
The Q and A session raised the familiar question of how the stadium was being paid for, with stress again on the club itself paying for the building of the stadium. Plans are still being worked on for infrastructural improvements on roads in the neighborhood, sidewalks, parking and so forth. The idea is to make the entire area easier to move through in a variety of ways. While parking is indeed an issue, they are working with parking experts, as well as offsite parking with shuttles to bring people to the stadium. In addition, the city has hired experts to look into changes in traffic patterns around the neighborhood.