Nashville MLS Stadium update: Jan. 24, 2019

Nashville’s No. 1 local government blog is back at it, folks. UPDATED 1/25/19: see the Court’s opinion at the bottom of the post.

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Mockup of potential fairgrounds layout.

One of Nashville’s hurdles in getting an MLS stadium built has been cleared. Today, Chancery Court judicial officer Ellen Hobbes Lyle granted Metropolitan Government of Nashville and Davidson County’s motion for a summary judgment in their lawsuit against Save Our Fairgrounds, et al.

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A summary judgment allows the Chancellor to make a final ruling based on the facts of the case in a situation where there are no factual matters in dispute between the parties, and typically when said facts point clearly to one side’s claims (in this case, Metro’s case for dismissal) being valid.

Save Our Fairgrounds sued Sept. 4, hours before Metro Council overwhelmingly voted to approve all necessary legislation to allow for the stadium to be built (see a full timeline in this post). Their arguments included that the construction of a stadium on the fairgrounds property would fundamentally alter the uses for the site, in violation of a statewide 2011 referendum that ensured a fair would be held at the site. They also made arguments that reductions to parking during construction would make the holding of a flea market (one of those traditional uses) difficult or impossible. Chancellor Lyle dismissed those arguments out of hand in recent hearings.

While this is one hurdle cleared in the judicial system (after all the legislative barriers were dealt with in the Metro Council process), it’s not the last currently on the court’s docket. The Tennessee State Fair Association filed its own lawsuit last Friday. The Fair Association is a non-profit private body that has been granted contracts to host the state fair in perpetuity. Given that Metro has just been served its summons within the past week, few details of their arguments have been made publicly available.

If Metro’s arguments in previous legal complaints – that building a stadium does not prevent the hosting of a state fair (or that the margin of their votes in favor of building a stadium would supersede the requirement, fulfilling the obligations of the change made to the metro charter in the 2011 referendum) – it’s likely that this next case will see a similar conclusion. The State Fair Association has not yet filed for injunctive relief to halt the construction at the fairgrounds site while the case is decided, but it’s likely that they will do so (as Save Our Fairgrounds did, though their motion for that injunction was denied). Construction of the new expo buildings has already begun with grading of the site.

Stay tuned to FCAC for further updates on the progress toward the building of an MLS Stadium. Nashville SC is scheduled to join Major League Soccer in 2020, but will likely play its inaugural season in Nissan Stadium, as the soccer-specific stadium is not slated for completion until 2021.

See the Court’s official Summary Judgment here:  save our fairgrounds v metro-18-952-mor-rule on defs sj (n0254136xd719a)

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