The Nashville Metro Council on Tuesday voted overwhelmingly to approve a financing plan for a $275 million potential Major League Soccer stadium on the city’s fairgrounds.
The council approved the plan, contingent upon the city being awarded an MLS expansion franchise, 31 to 6, with two abstentions.
The financing deal would see the city issue $225 million in revenue bonds to fund the stadium project. An ownership group led by John Ingram, chairman of Ingram Industries Inc. and majority investor in USL club Nashville SC, would pay the city $25 million up front and $9 million a year for 30 years to help retire the $13 million annual debt for the $225 million bond issuance. Any gaps in funding would be covered by sales tax generated by the stadium and a ticket tax; Metro would pay the difference if those tax projections fall short.
"Of course the final decision on the team won’t be ours, but tonight Nashville checked off the final item that MLS needed to see," Ingram said in a statement. "I’m always proud of this city, and tonight we’ve shown – once again – how we all come together around something important to make Nashville the best it can be."
In addition to the stadium site, the financing deal also gives a potential Nashville MLS team control over a 10-acre parcel adjacent to the venue at the fairgrounds that Ingram plans to turn into a mixed-use development with housing, retail and commercial space.
Ingram worked closely on the deal with Nashville Mayor Megan Barry, who issued a statement of support for the passage of the measure on Tuesday night.
“The Metro Council should be applauded for joining the majority of Nashvillians who say YES to Major League Soccer in Nashville,” Barry said in a written statement. “Their vote tonight puts Nashville in a very strong position to be awarded a franchise later this year by MLS.
“Thank you to John Ingram and the MLS to Nashville committee who have worked tirelessly over the last year to make this night possible for soccer supporters all across the Nashville area.”
Nashville was one of 12 cities to submit an expansion application to Major League Soccer in January. The league has announced it plans to select two new expansion teams in December from the group of applicants, with two more to follow at a later date.
Nashville SC will begin play in USL next year at First Tennessee Park, the home of Minor League Baseball's Nashville Sounds.