A proposed new stadium for the Tennessee Titans took a critical step forward Tuesday as members of Nashville’s Metro Council gave initial approval for a term sheet outlining the $2.1 billion project.
Taxpayer funding will cover $1.26 billion of the project, making the proposed stadium the largest public spend ever for an NFL stadium. Council members backed the proposal Tuesday evening in a vote of 27 to 8.
Now, Mayor John Cooper’s administration and the Titans will continue negotiations and due diligence on financial details of the stadium deal.
“This is not the final approval 0f the stadium, this is the basis for the negotiation of quite a few additional things that will still need to take place,” said Council Member Brett Withers, who sponsored legislation to approve the term sheet. “This does provide a signal that we’re generally on the same page and that it makes sense to proceed with those negotiations over the next couple of months.”
Proposed stadium plans outline a domed stadium with seating for 60,000, capable of hosting events like the Super Bowl, college football playoffs, the NCAA Final Four basketball tournaments and major entertainment events. It’s projected to be complete by the start of the 2026 football season.
If approved, the new stadium would replace the current Nissan Stadium, which opened in 1999.
Several, including Council Member Delishia Porterfield, said Tuesday that the council needed more time to get remaining financial questions answered and engage more meaningfully with the public before approving such a large spend.
“That's what working people have to do when we can't afford something: we have to wait until we can afford it, or we have to buy what we can afford,” Porterfield said. “This is a big debt for the NFL. This is also the most debt of any NFL stadium paid by the taxpayers … Why are we doing it if we can’t afford it? We can get something that we can afford. But instead, we’re going to rush through with something that’s obviously not affordable.”
Council Member Ginny Welsch called the term sheet “idiotic.”
“This is a play to find out how much Nashville is willing to hand over in cash and infrastructure to the Titans instead of giving it to our people … And if they don’t get what they want, they will leave – all their protestations notwithstanding,” Welsch said. “We should not be walking off a cliff just because the administration wants us to.”
Council members amended the term sheet to require lease extensions of the future stadium to be mutually agreed by both the city and team – not unilaterally decided by the team only.
Many financial details remain unknown, including several figures which Titans leadership have deemed confidential. Officials from Metro’s Finance Department told council members on Monday that they are “still doing our due diligence” on many financial elements of the proposal.
Council Member Bob Mendes noted the financial unknowns during debate Tuesday evening.
“We’ve been told that there’s going to be $2.9 billion worth of revenue coming in from the captured Metro revenue tax sources. We don’t have any information whatsoever – not a rough idea of a bond payment, not a rough idea of where the rest of the money’s going to go,” Mendes said. “That’s commercially unreasonable, and let’s face it – we’re doing a business deal here.”
Council members also on Tuesday approved a 1% increase to Metro’s hotel occupancy tax to raise revenue for the stadium, to take effect when a final deal is approved. Tennessee’s Republican-majority legislature approved the tax increase last spring.
Cooper called the council’s vote “an enormous step toward a better future for Nashville’s neighborhoods and families.”
“As we move toward the end of negotiations with the Titans, I remain deeply committed to putting Nashville taxpayers first, and I will not compromise on our core principles,” Cooper said in a statement. “This deal is about way more than football. It’s about what is best for Nashville’s financial future.”