Metro Budget and Finance Committee recommends disapproval of key stadium legislation

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Who could possibly want to tear down this well-maintained, very safe building? Tim Sullivan/For Club and Country

The ups and downs of the battle to build an MLS Stadium at the Tennessee State Fairgrounds hit a down point last night: The Budget and Finance Committee of Metro Council recommended disapproval of a couple key resolutions. We’ll start with the good news, though. A couple resolutions were killed by Metro Legal before even getting to a serious point:

Resolution RS2018-1372 (Cooper, Vercher)
Referred to the Budget and Finance Committee

A resolution calling a county-wide referendum election to ascertain the will of the people regarding the issuance of bonds by the Metropolitan Government of Nashville and Davidson County to be secured by revenues of the Metropolitan Government, and the lease of public property, for the construction of a new Major League Soccer Stadium at Fairgrounds Nashville, and appropriating an amount not to exceed Fifty Thousand Dollars ($50,000) from the Undesignated Fund Balance of the General Fund of the General Services District to provide the necessary funds for the referendum.

This resolution cannot be voted upon until the Metro Finance director rules the funds are available (which has not happened). That was considered an unreasonable technicality by sponsor John Cooper, which is an odd characterization of something that’s plainly stated in the Metro rules.

Now, on to the bad news. The following bill is necessary for the stadium to be built, and was voted against by the committee, 7-5:

Bill BL2018-1289 (Sledge, Vercher)
Approved by the Planning Commission
Referred to the Budget and Finance Committee
Referred to the Codes, Fair, and Farmers Market Committee
Referred to the Planning, Zoning, and Historical Committee

An ordinance approving the demolition of certain buildings and structures necessary for the construction of a new Major League Soccer Stadium at the Fairgrounds Nashville, and amending Title 5 of the Metropolitan Code to impose a privilege tax on the sale of tickets to events at the new Major League Soccer stadium (Proposal No. 2018M-020PR-001).

That’s not a kiss of death for the resolution: indeed, at tonight’s Metro Council meeting, the expectation is that it is approved on a second reading. Tonight’s vote requires a simple majority (21 “yes”) to make it to the third reading, slated for the Sept. 4 Metro Council meeting.

However, it is an indication that all is not in the clear in terms of making an MLS stadium – and therefore an MLS team – happen for Nashville.

What can I do?

First and foremost, let your metro councilperson know that you are in favor of the passage of Bill 1289, in favor of an MLS Stadium (and the accompanying pieces, including ten acres for private development and new facilities for the flea market and State Fair) at the Fairgrounds, and in favor of MLS coming to Nashville.

Don’t know how to get in touch with your councilperson? You can see how on this website, which lists the e-mail addresses along with district (if you don’t know which district you reside in, you can enter your address on the right). I would also recommend contacting at least the at-large councilmembers.

Want to have your voice heard to the entire body? councilmembers@nashville.gov is the address to reach all of them at once (or you can go through the MLS2Nashville site here). Ensure that whatever you include in the body, it’s heartfelt and honest – since we’ve seen plenty on the anti-fairgrounds side of things trafficking in dishonesty, including Councilmember Glover – and make sure the subject line of the e-mail makes it clear that you support an MLS Stadium.

Show up! Nothing is more impactful than making your presence felt in a literal sense. Go to tonight’s 6:00 p.m. Metro Council meeting, and show up early (here) to make sure you get in.

Better yet, if you’re a fan of pizza and/or soft drinks, show up to Public Square Park (immediately in front of the Metro building) at 4:30 p.m. MLS2Nashville will be providing the grub, and there will be a march into the building early enough to make sure all attendees get a seat in the chambers – which is not always guaranteed, especially when there are other contentious items on the docket (which, if you haven’t been yet, please know that these meetings cover all Metro business, not just stadium-related items. Prepare for boredom).

Importantly, wear blue and gold (preferably Nashville SC garb), bring scarves, bring friends who are wearing the right colors, etc. A show of force for the pro-stadium crowd can’t be ignored. On the same note do not wear red, which the anti-stadium group has adopted as the color of its cause.

What’s next?

Assuming 1289 makes it through a majority vote tonight, the easiest thing to remember to do is to keep repeating the steps listed above. Make sure your Councilperson and the body writ large hear your voice in the interim.

Be ready to show up again at the Sept. 4 meeting (and if you’re truly dedicated, next Monday for committee meetings), and hopefully, be ready to celebrate clearing these hurdles.

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