NASHVILLE, Tenn. (AP) – Mayor Megan Barry has proposed a $250 million stadium deal as the final piece in Nashville’s bid for a Major League Soccer expansion team.
Under the plan presented Monday to the Metro Council, Nashville would issue $200 million in bonds for the 27,500-seat stadium and another $25 million for infrastructure surrounding the stadium at the city fairgrounds. The private owners in MLS2Nashville would be responsible for $25 million and any construction cost overruns with ticket tax revenue helping repay the bonds.
Barry promised that no tax increase would be needed under this proposal.
“This will give Nashville another chance to have a major league team that the city can come behind, rally behind, get behind just like we do the (NFL’s) Titans and the (NHL’s) Predators,” Barry said. “And I think we are absolutely ready for this. Nashville is a soccer city.”
The proposal also features private development of 10 acres around the stadium and renovation of the fairgrounds. The council could approve the bond resolution as early as Oct. 17 for a stadium to open in March 2021. The bonds only would be issued if Nashville wins an expansion franchise from MLS.
Nashville appeared to make a strong case recently when league Commissioner Don Garber visited the city this summer in conjunction with the U.S. national team’s Gold Cup opener against Panama.
The turnout caught Garber’s eye. The July 8 game drew 42,622 fans to Nissan Stadium, which was followed by a record crowd of 56,232 July 29 to watch Manchester City beat Tottenham 3-0 in the International Champions Cup. A U.S. women’s national team SheBelieves Cup match against France last year drew more than 25,000 fans.
“If you don’t have success with friendlies or international competition, you’re not going to have success in MLS,” Garber told reporters during the visit. “So that’s a checked box that we’ve actually checked a while ago.”
MLS requires a solid stadium plan for an expansion franchise.
Nashville’s bid is led by billionaire businessmen John Ingram, and the group added Mark and brother Zygi Wilf, owners of the NFL’s Minnesota Vikings, and cousin Leonard Wilf in August as minority partners.
Twelve locations expressed interest in an expansion franchises. Two winning bids are expected to be announced later this year, bringing the league to 26 teams, with two additional teams to be added in the future.
MLS expanded to 22 teams this season with the addition of Atlanta United FC and Minnesota United FC. LAFC, which replaces the now-defunct Chivas USA, joins next year. Miami’s expansion effort, led by David Beckham, would bring the league to 24.
In addition to Nashville the other areas that submitted bids for an expansion team include: Cincinnati, Detroit, San Antonio, Sacramento, San Diego, St. Louis, Tampa/St. Petersburg, Indianapolis, Phoenix, Charlotte and Raleigh, N.C.
Copyright 2017 The Associated Press.