Nashville Stadium’s $30M Cost Overrun

Construction of publicy financed

First Tennessee Park
– First Tennessee Park
in Nashville, Tenn.

The discrepancy was blamed on a ramped-up, 13-month construction schedule and land costing $10 million more than budgeted, as well as an additional $21.2 million in prep work and infrastructure improvements.

“Initial cost estimates were based on a two-year-old feasibility study and did not factor a compressed design and construction schedule to complete the project for the spring 2015 season opening game,” according to the audit’s executive summary.

The stadium’s expedited opening also coincided with then-Mayor Karl Dean’s final year in office. According to the Tennessean, the stadium project was a high priority for Dean but current officials reject suggestions construction was sped up for political reasons.

Nashville’s Metro Council greenlit First Tennessee Park in December 2013, approving $65 million in municipal revenue bonds that were proposed by Dean, according to the paper. Stadium construction at that time was estimated to cost $60 million, and acquisition of state-owned land was projected to cost another $5 million.

Instead, construction and land wound up costing nearly $10 million more than expected. Not factored into the original estimate were $9.5 million for a greenbelt around the stadium, $5.6 million in infrastructure costs including street paving, sidewalks and electrical work; $3.6 million in improvements to address flooding issues; and $1.7 million in water and sewer works, the Tennessean reports.

The audit was conducted to address concerns about the final price tag blowing out the city’s original projections.

Rich Reibeling, chief operating office under current Mayor Megan Barry, told the Tennessean there were unforeseen factors at play in the increased cost of the project, including harsh winter weather and soil contamination discovered at the site. He also served as Dean’s finance director when the stadium project was proposed.

Reibeling defended the stadium’s cost to the Tennessean, citing its value to the North Nashville area.

“We felt that because of the growth of the area and potential growth of the area, we ought to go ahead and upgrade the infrastructure for future needs of the area,” he said. “I think the project worked. It’s been very successful. It’s been good for the city. And it’s been good for that area if you look at the development around it.”