Good morning, everyone.
If we learned anything from last night's vote in favor of financing the new Titans stadium, it's that the 12-gauge Mossberg the franchise first aimed at the city when it moved to town back in 1997 hasn't moved an inch. The Titans get what they want because they're armed and the city of Nashville is not.
It's not the city's fault though. As Steven Schuster explains in an op-ed for The Center Square, the NFL is set up like a cartel of sorts. They have a product with high demand, but restrict the supply by limiting the number of teams they allow in the league. This gives them an insane amount of leverage in negotiations over things like new stadiums.
The city of Nashville and the state of Tennessee wants the Tennessee Titans to stay, and so, just as they did in 1998 in order to lure the franchise from Houston, they will deliver on their wishes for a new stadium, no matter what you think about it.
They can't justify it economically (and they know that), so the sales pitch for the newest variant has transformed into some weird assortment of carrots like the promise of a Wrestlemania and vague intonations about it being the "People's House." To quote Nashville Mayor Phil Bredesen when the Titans first came to town, "These academic analysts who point out you can’t justify a new stadium in economic terms, well, they’re right." I guess it's just a cultural thing then.
There's been a lot of backlash to the deal. It is the largest stadium subsidy in US history and comes at a crucial inflection point as the city struggles to balance the demands of growth with the concerns of its residents. Many see the deal as a reflection of the city's slow turn away from the business of making the city better for those that have invested their lives there and towards attracting businesses and tourists.
Whatever the case, if you think the backlash to the deal is bad now, consider how bad it would be if the city didn't meet the franchise's demands and they packed up and left. John Cooper can't have something like that tarnishing his illustrious legacy.
Speaking of mayors, lost amidst all this noise is this year's mayoral race. As of today, there are fourteen candidates vying for the office. Among those is Alice Rolli who I talked to last week about all the things you're supposed to talk to a mayoral candidate about.
At the top of Alice's priorities are education and crime. During the conversation, she mentioned that there is no reason the city should accept a less-than-world-class public school system or police force. I found that clarifying for the direction the city should go. We recorded the conversation for The Pamphleteer Podcast.
And if you want the skinny on last night's session regarding the stadium deal, Megan has all the details below.
▶︎ IN CONVERSATION: ALICE ROLLI (MAYORAL CANDIDATE)
Editor-in-chief Davis Hunt sat down with mayoral candidate Alice Rolli to discuss her background, what qualifies her for mayor, and what her priorities would be if elected.
- 🥒 Jerod Hollyfield meets a group of Cookeville middle schoolers hoping to spread their love of the briny snack at an inaugural festival this weekend. (Read)
- 🏈 Miles Harrington gives considers what the Titans might do at the NFL Draft this week. (Read)
- 🧬 And, Did Testosterone Play A Role In the Covenant Transgender Murderer's Rampage? Jano Tantongco considers. (Read)
❏ TITANS DEAL: SIGNED, SEALED, DELIVERED
After two months of debate and nine months of public, private, and expert input, Metro Council voted 26-12 to approve the development of a new, enclosed stadium on the East Bank. The financing plan, passed during last night’s meeting, includes the largest public subsidy for a stadium in US history.
The $2.1 billion tab will be split three ways: The Titans will put forward $840 million, some of which will come from personal seat license sales. The state will fork over $500 million, as determined during last year’s general assembly. The struggle, as of late, has been over the $760 million Metro is supposed to contribute; much of the revenue is anchored to the sales tax capture zones located within the to-be-developed East Bank site— a strategy presented as a visionary way to both balance the books and prevent stadium costs from bleeding the Metro general fund dry.
THE OUTLIER Councilmember Delishia Porterfield, who has remained firmly against passing the deal as it is currently presented, voted in favor during last night’s meeting; however, she was granted permission to switch her vote after the initial tally was taken. Her affirmative vote was strategic (more on that later). In any case, the true final vote count can be reflected as 25 in favor, 13 against.
PUBLIC HEARING Though some found the idea unproductive and performative, a motion to hold a public hearing during the bill’s final reading passed last week. During the four-hour slot allotted for those who wished to speak last night, 127 constituents and commentators came forward to express their concerns— 40 people spoke in favor of the legislation, while 87 spoke against it. This is a change from the past listening sessions held across the county by the East Bank Committee, wherein the split between the deal’s proponents and opponents remained fairly even.
Those in support of the deal spoke first. Some notable pro-stadium constituents included Glenda Glover, president of Tennessee State University; Laura Knotts, president of the Madison-Rivergate Chamber of Commerce; six generations of former Metro council members; and Jennifer Turner, CEO of the Tennessee Performing Arts Center. Overall, those who supported the deal tended to be owners of businesses large and small, corporate executives, Titans fans, and ordinary Nashvillians hoping to set the city on a path toward progress.
Those in opposition included Odessa Kelly, former US Congressional candidate for the 7th district; Hunter Hamberlin, the state policy manager for the Taxpayers Protection Alliance; Mason Cables, an ICU nurse at the General Hospital; a slew of Metro Government employees; and multiple victims of the flooding that has taken place across Davidson County over the last few years. In other words, much of the opposition came from Nashville locals who felt left behind by this deal.
COUNCIL’S FINAL WORDS The closing appeals by the council members summed up the rallying cries of each side. According to members who opposed the deal, a half-baked contract was rammed through in order to put a feather in the mayor’s cap and to appease the Titans, their lobbyists, and the special interests of powerful players. Most “anti” members felt more could have been negotiated to line Metro’s pockets and alleviate the substantial burden the deal will place on taxpayers.
Council members in support of the build repeatedly denied that they were being swayed by backroom pacts. Instead, they argued, they’re signing off on a financing plan set to release taxpayers from a bad deal: the stadium will be an asset, one that will give back to the residents of the city, sustain itself with tourist tax dollars, and put some much-needed revenue toward many of the issues facing Nashville residents.
PERFORMANCE POLITICS In a last-ditch effort to delay the deal, Councilmember Porterfield voted in favor of the bill for the sole purpose of motioning to reconsider the vote. According to the rules, only a council member who voted in the affirmative can make a motion to reconsider, which in turn would trigger another final vote during the next council meeting. (Porterfield’s strategy, presumably, was to jeopardize the deal in some way—perhaps by putting it back in limbo as this year’s budget window approaches.) After some back-and-forth on the floor, a vote taken on a motion by Councilmember Kathleen Murphy challenging the Vice Mayor’s decision nullified Porterfield’s attempt, and the deal was passed.
Tennessee Lawmakers Call for the Release of Covenant Murderer Hale Manifesto Ahead of Special Session (Star) State Sen. Todd Gardenhire (R-Chattanooga), the chairman of the Senate Judiciary Committee, has filed a public records request with the Metro Nashville Police Department (MNPD) in order to obtain information about the manifesto.
Tennessee Legislature passed Lee's $412M tax cut, grocery tax holiday (Center Square) The largest factor in the bill was $272.8 million in a three-month food and food ingredients tax holiday from August through October across the state, a proposal that holds locals harmless by sending other state tax funds their way to cover the local portion of the food tax.
Robertson County school board rejects ACA charter school application (Tennessean) Board members voted to deny the application based on an extensive review process by and on the recommendation of the Robertson County Schools Charter School Application Review Committee, which found it lacking in its academic, operational and financial plans.
Franklin Alderman Gabrielle Hanson faces public criticism, ethics complaint following podcast interview (The News) The issue began during a discussion on the April 18 Mill Creek View Tennessee podcast about the recent Franklin Pride Festival vote which saw Hanson stand in opposition to the festival.
- Growth continues in Middle Tennessee's Shelbyville, Bedford Co. (Tennessean $)
- Mixed-use project planned for 200-acre Franklin farm (NBJ)
- East Nashville property listed for sale (Post)
- Chestnut Hill commercial property sells for $825K (Post)
THINGS TO DO
📅 Visit our On The Radar list to find upcoming events around Nashville.
🎧 On Spotify: Pamphleteer's Picks, a playlist of our favorite bands in town this week.
🎸 Snarky Puppy @ Ryman Auditorium, $30+, Info
+ jazz fusion
🎸 Kevn Kinney @ Eastside Bowl @ 7p, Free, Info
+ lead singer and guitarist of rock band Drivin N Cryin
🪕 Bluegrass Night @ The American Legion Post 82, 7p, Free, Info
🥁 The Wednesday Beat @ The 5 Spot, 9p, $10, Info
+ record spinner + drummer
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