New Nashville mayor must tackle complex deals on speedway, East Bank development



(The Center Square) – Nashville has a new mayor, one who was a vocal critic of the several sports stadium deals put together by the previous administration.

But with the deal approved for a $2.1 billion new Tennessee Titans stadium and Nashville committed to continue racing at the Nashville Fairgrounds Speedway in some form, the question now is what type of deals the new administration will work out to complete those deals.

The Titans stadium deal is already approved, including $500 million ($22.6 million in payments per year) in funds bonded by the state of Tennessee and a $3.1 billion tax capture to pay off Metro Nashville stadium bonds and pay for future maintenance, upgrades and infrastructure.

But the complex deal also includes the costs of developing Nashville’s East Bank while following an outline of that deal that the city is already committed to, including keeping 2,000 parking spots available near the new stadium.

A proposal from developer Fallon includes the city bonding $75 million for infrastructure at the site, set to be paid off over 10 years using ground lease funds, while the city brings in a projected $527.9 million in real estate tax and ground lease funds through 2057, according to documents posted by Tennessee Lookout.

Tennessee already committed $200 million for the relocation of the Tennessee Performing Arts Center to Nashville’s East Bank and a $65 million incentive for Oracle’s new $1.35 billion campus nearby.

O’Connell told reporters that initial conversations have occurred with Bristol Motor Speedway after the previous administration’s proposal never reached a vote in front of Nashville’s Metro Council.

That deal never had a final price tag but involved at least $120 million in taxpayer funds to rebuild the speedway with a new 30,000-seat grandstand in hopes of holding a NASCAR Cup Series race every two years. The deal included $86 million in Nashville Sports Authority bonds and $34 million combined from Tennessee and Nashville’s Convention and Visitors Corporation.

The prior proposal was projected to cost an estimated $177.5 million to pay off the bonds over the 30-year lease at a 5.31% interest rate – with $6 million to $7 million in annual debt service – using a tax capture that includes ticket tax, rent from Bristol Motor Speedway, a sales tax capture, 5% revenue share, an annual $650,000 payment from the CVC and revenue from advertising and sponsors.

“I would say I came into this moment expecting that there would be a long-term future of a speedway in some form,” O’Connell told reporters. “I think that’s still my expectation based on where conversations with the team and Bristol are, but I would not say we’re in an active state of negotiation.”

Now, O’Connell’s team will include former Council Member Bob Mendes and Deputy Mayor Sam Wilcox, also a member of former Mayor John Cooper’s administration.



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