Tennessee legislature proposes bill to help fund Nashville MLS stadium

Nashville skyline

With Nashville identified as one of 10 potential MLS expansion candidates last week, there's a new bill proposed in the Tennessee legislature to help fund a Nashville MLS stadium.

The Tennessean this weekend reported that the bill would allocate state sales tax revenue from a future stadium to the Nashville government fund to repay debts used in building the stadium. All gameday costs, including concessions, parking fees and ticket charges, would be taxed as part of the fund.

“This just puts an MLS franchise, should we get one, on par with [the state’s other professional sports franchises],” state senator Steve Dickerson, the person who proposed the bill, said in the story. “The intention is to help fund or fray the cost of a stadium and encourage an MLS stadium to locate here.

“I think now is the time for Nashville to move into the professional soccer realm,” he added. “Whatever I can do to help within the scope of my General Assembly role, I’m all for it.”

The plan is one that has been used by other professional sports teams in the state, including the NFL's Tennessee Titans, the NHL's Nashville Predators and the NBA's Memphis Grizzlies, to repay stadium debt.

The report indicates that once introduced, the bill will be part of a formal plan by the proposed ownership group behind Nashville's MLS expansion bid, fulfilling a requirement stated in the expansion process and timeline released by the league last week. Applications for the next round of expansion are due on Jan. 31, 2017.

“We are actively pursuing our bid for a Major League Soccer franchise, and that includes a world-class stadium plan,” Will Alexander, co-organizer of the Nashville MLS Steering Committee, said in a statement. “In the tradition of Nashville’s professional sports facilities, we will provide an exceptional experience for soccer fans. This legislation is part of that effort, and we appreciate the support from our legislators.”