Financing Approved For Nashville MLS Stadium

Nashville’s bid to land an expansion Major League Soccer franchise has $275 million in financing approved to build a new stadium, weeks before a decision from the league.  

Nashville Stadium Rendering
– Nashville Stadium Rendering

Metro Nashville City Council voted 31-6 Nov. 7 for $225 million in revenue bonds for the stadium itself and another $50 million in bonds for renovations and improvements around the stadium at the current fairgrounds.

MLS requires a solid stadium plan for an expansion franchise.

“The vision to bring Major League Soccer to our city moves one step closer,” billionaire businessman and lead owner of the local bid John Ingram said in a statement.

The city has seen strong turnouts for exhibition matches, including a July 8 match that drew 42,622 fans to Nissan Stadium, and 56,232 July 29 to see Manchester City beat Tottenham Hotspur in the International Champions Cup.

A U.S. women’s national team SheBelieves Cup match against France last year drew more than 25,000.

Looming over the approved financing plan, and any venue financing plan, is the recent Republican tax bill unveiled last week, which calls for an end tax-exempt status on bond interest.  In the bill, a “sports stadium” is defined as any facility that houses professional sports games, exhibitions or training “as a stadium or arena” for at least five days per year.

Twelve locations have expressed interest in MLS expansion teams. The league is expected to announce two winning bids later this year, which would bring the league to 26 teams and two more to be added. Other cities vying for MLS are Cincinnati, Detroit, Sacramento, San Diego, St. Louis, Tampa-St. Petersburg, Indianapolis, Phoenix, Charlotte and Raleigh, North Carolina.

In 2011 the Soccer Stadium Alliance formed specifically to host more concerts in MLS buildings. Seven participating MLS stadiums include Children’s Mercy Park in Kansas City, Toyota Stadium in Frisco, Texas, Jen-Wen Field in Portland and BC Place in Vancouver, which just recently hosted Metallica Aug. 14, which sold 31,075 tickets and grossed $3.4 million.

Talen Energy Stadium in Pennsylvania, home to the Philadelphia Union, has hosted Tour de Fat this year with Plain White T’s, and in recent years has hosted concerts by O.A.R., Rock Allegiance Festival (2016 bill: Slayer, Sevendust, Killswitch Engage) and others.

Dick’s Sporting Goods Park, home to the Colorado Rapids, hosted three Phish dates in September and Luke Bryan last year, along with more Phish dates.  In 2016 the three Phish shows Sept. 2-4 moved 69,936 tickets and grossed just more than $4 million according to Pollstar.

The alliance was formed similarly to the NFL stadium group called Gridiron Stadium Network, which is overseen by Apregan Group President Jeff Apregan and advises 15 NFL stadiums.