Titans, city of Nashville agree to terms for new lease, new stadium

NASHVILLE, Tenn. — The Tennessee Titans have lined up the last financing for an estimated $2.1 billion domed stadium that will put the franchise in position to host a Super Bowl once the new building opens with a target date of the beginning of the 2026 season.

The Titans and Nashville Mayor John Cooper announced the agreement at a news conference Monday, providing $760 million in bonds issued by the Metro Sports Authority in a deal that still must be approved by the Metro Nashville City Council. Cooper said this new proposal protects taxpayers’ money.

“Doing nothing was not a legal option for us, and renovating the current stadium proved to be financially irresponsible, so we are proposing a new stadium paid for by the team, the state, tourists and spending around the stadium — not by your family,” Cooper said in a statement.

Having a domed stadium gives Nashville the chance to host a Super Bowl along with major concerts during the winter, college playoff games — both football and basketball, the annual CMA Fan Fest and Wrestlemania that were among the selling points.

“Nashville’s new stadium will be a game-changer for the community, enhancing the national and international reputation of our great city and state and delivering world-class events to our doorstep that we could never have dreamed of 25 years ago,” Titans president and CEO Burke Nihill said.

This deal shifts an estimated $1.8 billion in costs for future maintenance and stadium investments up to 2039 from Nashville taxpayers to the NFL franchise, which also will be on the hook for any construction costs that go over budget.

As part of the deal, the Titans agree to waive $32 million owed by Nashville for the money spent by the team maintaining the stadium over the past four years. The Titans also will be paying off the remaining $30 million in bonds owed for the current stadium.

A new 1% hotel/motel tax, an in-stadium sales tax and a 50% sales tax for the stadium and area around the building will help pay the tab. If tax proceeds don’t hit projections, the Titans will be responsible instead of Nashville or the city’s general fund. The Tennessee legislature already approved $500 million in bonds.

The Titans have been negotiating with city officials for months to finalize the agreement announced Monday that includes a new 30-year lease.

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Nashville hired an independent consulting firm to confirm the Titans’ estimate how much the city would have to pay to maintain the stadium under the lease signed in 1996. Venue Solutions Group essentially confirmed the Titans’ appraisal, putting the cost between $1.75 billion and $1.95 billion over the remaining years on the lease.

The Titans, with help from the NFL, and the sale of personal seat licenses are expected to provide $840 million in funding. The Titans have been clearing money for the Titans’ portion of the stadium.

Controlling owner Amy Adams Strunk already paid for the expansion of the team’s headquarters that essentially doubled the size of the building that opened in August 1999. Strunk said in a statement she doesn’t think her father could’ve imagined a better home when he moved his team here 25 years ago.

“The way the people of Tennessee have embraced this team as their own is truly something special, and I am thrilled that with this new agreement, we will cement our future here in Nashville for another generation,” Strunk said.

Nissan Stadium originally opened for the 1999 season, then named Adelphia Coliseum. The stadium package cost $292 million in the deal that convinced franchise owner Bud Adams, who died in 2013, to move the Oilers’ franchise he founded in Houston in 1960 as part of the original American Football League, to Tennessee.

The Titans originally planned to renovate the stadium until a study doubled the original estimated costs of $600 million to $1.2 billion.

Team officials presented Nashville officials with a study showing the stadium would need at least $1.8 billion in maintenance if the franchise picked up its option extending the lease.

The new stadium would be built on the parking lots between the current stadium and Interstate 24. The deal announced Monday returns control of 66 acres, including the current site of Nissan Stadium, to Nashville. City officials have been planning a renovation to feature a park, greenways, affordable housing and a new road.

Nashville already hosted the 2019 NFL Draft, drawing approximately 600,000 people over three days.

Copyright 2022 by The Associated Press

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