Nashville SC finally rescued the deal for a 30,000-seat MLS stadium, before a lone citizens’ group filed another injunction. The club needs a home for MLS expansion.
The once-threatened Nashville SC deal for a 30,000-seat stadium looked rescued for a day. Initially, new Mayor John Cooper took office in 2019, reviewed the city’s total project obligations, and said they weren’t right.
But on February 13, Cooper reviewed the new terms and gave the project a go-ahead. After fretting that the new stadium would not be allowed, it seemed as though Nashville would be getting a home.
While Nashville SC won it’s MLS expansion bid in December 2017, the team already had a stadium deal in place as of November of that year. They begin play this season in Nissan Stadium, where the NFL-based Tennessee Titans play. Then, sometime during the 2022 season, they will move to their own $275 million stadium at the city fairgrounds.
After Mayor Cooper took office, he initially reviewed the Fairgrounds Nashville project and used his authority to suspend it by preventing the start of infrastructure and demolition work. MLS Commissioner Don Garber quickly jumped into new discussions with Nashville SC owner John Ingram and the mayor. MLS wouldn’t have approved Nashville without a rock-solid stadium deal but the mayor stood firm in requiring financial terms favorable to the city and to redeveloping the Fairgrounds automobile racetrack.
It remains to be seen how Nashville’s stadium plans work out, but they are a critical piece to their MLS expansion bid. Nashville SC acknowledged that without all items in place, MLS could revoke or move the franchise agreement. That spectre adds urgency to settling the Save Our Fairgrounds legal matter as soon as possible.
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The citizens’ group has appeared with a new, threatened injunction. The coalition claims the project’s demolition of buildings violates the Metro Charter. The group hosts the state fair and the targeted buildings are necessary for their work. They also say 3,500 parking spaces would disappear which would make it tough for the flea market members of their group.
Save Our Fairgrounds have worked to get an injunction before on this project and were unsuccessful. In November 2018, the group sought an injunction to prevent the construction of expo center buildings. A judge ruled in favor of the Metro government.
Moreover, a lawsuit related to the injunction is ongoing. Group President Duane Dominy insists that space allowed by the project is inadequate between the MLS stadium and racetrack to host their required events. So just as soon as MLS and the team got the mayor to budge, those bringing the lawsuit are standing firm.
The first requested injunction may have been denied but this one might be more challenging for Nashville SC to see off. And for Nashville, to be a part of MLS, they need their stadium plans.