The Tennessee Titans’ home facility, Nissan Stadium, could get a multi-million dollar renovation thanks to a new proposed bill.
The bill seeks to use sales tax dollars generated by the stadium to pay for upgrades both to and around the facility.
With new upgrades, a proposed entertainment district in the surrounding area, and the Titans’ Tennessee sports betting partnership, the stadium is the place to be for football fans.
Nissan Stadium sales tax could fund facility upgrades
Nissan Stadium has been in operation for 22 years. Along with Tennessee Titans games, the facility hosts countless other concerts and events each year, including an international soccer match this July.
State funding has fueled the stadium from the very beginning. The city of Nashville owns the stadium, and now, the state wants to use a portion of stadium-generated tax revenue to pay for facility upgrades.
In return, the stadium could generate over $10 million in annual maintenance funding.
Gov. Bill Lee originally proposed the idea to use state sales tax collected within the stadium toward renovations.
Tennessee accumulates an average of $5.4 million in annual tax revenue from Nissan Stadium. As it is now, the state puts roughly $3.6 million of that toward the stadium’s bond debt repayment.
Under this new bill, the remainder of that amount would be redistributed into a Metro Nashville Sports Authority account for use on stadium upgrades through 2029. After 2029, that amount will increase to $5.4 million annually.
Based on a study conducted in 2017, Nissan Stadium is in need of $293 million worth of upgrades over the course of the next 20 years.
A similar agreement is already in place at Bridgestone Arena. This 25 year-old home of the Nashville Predators is in need of $183.4 million worth of renovations in the same timeframe.
Nissan Stadium dreams become reality
Legislators have raised discussion on how to fund stadium improvements for years. Luckily, Gov. Bill Lee made the initiative one of his legislative priorities for the year.
HB 1437 passed on first consideration in the House earlier this week. The bill and its companion, SB 1543, passed in the Senate this Thursday by a unanimous 29 votes.
Now that the bill has been approved by both, a definitive version will be written. Once signed by the Speakers, it will be sent to the governor for a final signature.
New 130-acre development included in improvement plans
The bill also makes note of East Bank, a 130-acre development near the stadium. Plans for the project include hotels, retail shopping, dining, and entertainment. The bill asks the state to forgo 50% of the sales tax generated from this proposed project. Once established, $10 million of that sales tax could go back to the team.
The bill’s fiscal note mentions the financial benefits of the development:
“The proposed legislation would result in significant foregone state revenue and a corresponding increase in local revenue. Due to multiple unknown variables, the timing and magnitude of such impacts cannot be quantified with reasonable certainty. However, upon full development of the campus, such amounts could exceed $10,000,000 per year.”
Rep. Gary Hicks, the proposal’s primary sponsor, also points to the economic advancements the area would gain:
“If you look at the overall investment that the state is making, it will be about $334 million. If you look at the return on that investment, it’s going to be somewhere about $600 million.”
Improvements, entertainment, and sports betting
Along with the improvements fans will see within the stadium and the proposed development going forward, stadium-goers will also experience plenty of new BetMGM signage.
One Tennessee lawmaker, Rep. Jerry Sexton, doesn’t agree with the idea of the project being funded by taxpayers. Moreover, he finds issue in the way some players have taken to protesting during the national anthem.
“I’ve always been a fan of the NFL, ever since I was a little boy. But I don’t like what the NFL and these other sports leagues are doing to our country. Disrespecting our flag, taking a knee on the national anthem. So I have to, on those grounds, vote against this bill.”
Sen. Todd Gardenhire, R-Chattanooga, finds the most discomfort in the fact that the bill would affect the sales tax allocation on establishments created by the new development.
“These types of situations go on forever and forever, amen. … At some point, these types of situations need to be sunsetted. If they were just saying they wanted to keep it inside the stadium, I wouldn’t have as much heartburn. But when they want to use foregone tax revenue to develop something and keep those proceeds and make money off it, I just have a philosophical problem with that.”