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Senate committee amends bill to keep Super Bowl contract hidden for 10 years

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(The Center Square) – Tennessee’s Department of Tourism could keep a Super Bowl related contract hidden for up to 10 years but portions of the record would have to be publicly available for five years after that in a bill that passed a Senate committee on Tuesday.

Senate Bill 2711 differs from companion House Bill 1692 that passed the House on Feb. 29.

The Senate Local and State Government Committee passed the bill 8-1 with Sen. Sara Kyle, D-Memphis, voting against it.

The Senate version requires the Tennessee’s attorney general approve the reasoning for the Department of Tourism keeping the document confidential. It also requires the document to be retained for at least five years after the document becomes public.

Sen. John Stevens, R-Huntingdon, said a contract will be assumed to become public record when it’s signed unless the exception is used.

The bill also allows “proprietary information” to be redacted if the Department of Tourism and attorney general agree.

Department of Tourism Commissioner Mark Ezell recently said the department has $25 million in a mega event fund it can use for contracts related to a Super Bowl, Final Four or WWE-type large event. The funding came from last year’s Tennessee budget appropriations.

Rep. Andrew Farmer, R-Sevierville, presented the House bill as a way to keep “trade secrets and negotiations” private as the state works to bring the Super Bowl to Nashville after new Nissan Stadium is scheduled to open in 2028, 2029 or 2030.

Tennessee committed a $500 million subsidy for construction of new Nissan Stadium along with significant tax captures that contribute to an estimated $3.1 billion fund to pay off bonds and contribute to future maintenance and infrastructure at the site.

Economists have consistently shown publicly subsidized stadiums and events such as the Super Bowl do not bring the promised tax benefits to cities and states.

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