Sounds stadium financing plan unveiled

Mayor's plan calls for Metro to pay $65M

UPDATE: Click here for a transcript of Mayor Dean's session with reporters this afternoon

The financing plan for the new Nashville Sounds stadium in Sulphur Dell calls for Metro to pay $65 million coupled with $87 million in private development.

Metro Finance Director Rich Riebeling unveiled the plan at a Monday morning meeting of the Metro Sports Authority.

Under the plan, Metro will be obligated for a total of $65 million — $37 million for the stadium itself, plus a $23 million payment to the state for the land and $5 million in capitalized interest during a 24-month construction phase. The Sounds, simultaneous with the construction of the park, will build a $50 million multi-family and retail development along Third Avenue. A third entity — San Antonio's Embrey Development, which had an option on the land that is slated to be the stadium's left field — will build a 250-unit, $37 million multi-family residential development on the block bounded by Third and Fourth Avenues and Jefferson and Jackson Streets.

Riebeling said the ultimate impact on Metro's bottom line will be $345,000 annually. The bond issuance will cost $4.3 million per year.

Metro will pay that obligation through a multi-prong system:

  • The Sounds will make an annual lease payment of $700,000 during the 30-year term of the lease (2015 through 2045)
  • Under state law, a municipality can capture the increase in local-option sales taxes and any state sales tax generated on-site, which Riebeling estimated at $650,000 annually
  • The city will receive $750,000 in annual property tax from the Sounds development
  • Embrey's development is expected to generate $675,000
  • An existing MDHA tax-increment financing plan for the area — which is already in place, but will need to be extended — will generate $520,000.

In addition, an annual $250,000 payment to the Sounds for Greer Stadium maintenance will be eliminated and the city will no longer pay the state $410,000 annually for a lease at the former Tennessee Prepatory School property, which is now the campus of the Nashville School of the Arts.

The TPS property is part of a pending deal between state and city. The state will transfer the TPS property, along with the proposed stadium site, to the city. In exchange, Metro will pay $18 million to the state to build a parking garage, which will have 1,000 spots available for Sounds games. Metro will also pay $5 million to build an underground garage for the new state library and archives. The State Building Commission will take up the deal at its next meeting later this month. Originally, Metro planned to acquire that property via a land swap for the old Ben West Library, though that deal was flummoxed by century-old reversionary rights on the library's deed.

The Sounds will maintain the parking garage and keep any revenue generated during baseball games. Similar to the deals with the Titans for LP Field and the Predators at Bridgestone Arena, the team will be responsible for regular upkeep at the stadium with Metro responsible for major capital expenditures.

The stadium will be designed by renowned sports-facility architects Populous. The firm's Bruce Miller said the plan is for shielded lighting and a directed sound system, which he says will alleviate light and noise spillage into the nearby Germantown, Salemtown and Hope Gardens neighborhoods. The park will connect to a nearby greenway and parking options will be available downtown, Miller said, in an effort to alleviate parking concerns in those neighborhoods, as well.

The structure of the stadium is designed at five feet above the 100-year flood plain and one foot above the 2010 flood stage. The playing surface, though, is recessed 12 to 14 feet below the street, which puts it well below both high-water marks. Miller said "We'll be setting up to address those issues."

The 8,500-seat stadium will be oriented with a batter at home facing roughly south-southeast. The rules of major-league baseball strongly suggest, but do not require "the line from home base through the pitchers plate to second base ... run East Northeast." The new stadium's orientation will provide views of downtown.

The Sports Authority — which, as with LP Field and the arena, will be the landlord of the facility — unanimously approved a resolution requesting the Metro Council allow it to issue bonds. Riebeling said the timeline for council approval on that issue, plus for the land swap and the extension of the MDHA redevelopment district will be accelerated with all requisite legislation approved by December.