It looks like the Council has a new ordinance to consider on first reading next week that is aimed at removing the 10 acres of development from the soccer stadium deal.
When thinking about this latest effort to remove the 10 acres, I think it is worth reviewing what the Council actually passed last year.
Here’s what passed: Substitute RS2017-910. Everything that is underlined was added due to negotiations between the administration and Council members.
Many of you know that I negotiate and litigate complicated contracts for a living…most of the changed/added language came from me and was supported by my Council colleagues. I mention this only because I am very clear that my central goal in the negotiations was to beef up the conditions required to take place before any bonds could be issued to build a stadium. In particular, it was clear that the legislation was going to be approved (it passed 31-6). And just like what I would recommend for a private paying client, if you are going to do a deal, you want the “conditions precedent” to you spending money to be clear, robust, and meaningful.
The final legislation added many new conditions. Some of them are:
- Added the requirement of a signed development agreement absolutely limiting Metro’s obligations to $225 million with cost overruns to be paid by the team.
- To protect the historic uses of the Fairgrounds like the popular flea market, added a requirement that the team’s lease includes a reasonable mechanism for resolving scheduling disputes for the facilities and parking.
- Added a guaranty requirement if a controlling interest in the team is transferred to someone new.
- Added a requirement that the Fair Board approve the demolition of the structures at the Fairgrounds necessary to construct the stadium.
- Added a requirement that the Council approve an ordinance with 3 readings and with 27 votes authorizing the demolition of structures at the Fairgrounds necessary to construct the stadium.
- Added language clarifying that the Council would need to approve the zoning and the site plan for the 10 acres.
Especially with these last two bullet points, the Council already negotiated for itself the absolute right to refuse to allow the current structures from being torn down, to refuse to approve whatever new zoning will be sought, and to refuse to approve any site plan for the 10 acres.
This saga is going to unfold in the next few months. The team is trying really hard to be a good neighbor, including working on a meaningful community benefits agreement. Yet there continues to be opposition to the 10 acre development.
The team and the administration are going to be trying to meet these conditions over the next several months. Each Council member will have to weigh the perceived benefits and costs of having a soccer team in Nashville. My advice would be for the Council to rely on the protections we already negotiated for ourselves in the original resolution rather than attempting to make the process more chaotic with new after-the-fact conditions.