How the Amp got on the ropes

Steven Hale details what went wrongish for the Amp on Capitol Hill. The short answer is, "Plenty," and much of it has been the result of the Dean administration being caught flat-footed. As to where things go from here...

The legislative fight over The Amp has stirred up a volatile set of political dynamics that could be factors in this and other issues going forward. For instance: What effect, if any, does the open gubernatorial race in 2018 have on issues that pit Democrat Karl Dean against Republican Beth Harwell? That's a juicy what-if. But at present, there's a more pressing issue, according to insiders and a good set of eyes: the frosty relationship between Dean and Davidson County's state legislators, exacerbated by the mayor's inability, or unwillingness, to cultivate Tennessee lawmakers on pivotal city issues.

Apr 24, 2014 9:27 AM

Dean orders study of Amp design changes

Center lanes to disappear on part of BRT route; 20-member advisory committee to be formed
Apr 1, 2014 3:07 PM

Feds set aside $27M for Amp

Balance of $75M request will have to come in future budgets
Mar 4, 2014 1:41 PM

How should city rescue a bad Sulphur Dell deal? Buy the Sounds

Our J.R. Lind weighs in on a bad deal at Sulphur Dell and the only way to rescue it — just buy the team. It's been done elsewhere and the manageable tab would bring with it some big benefits.

The value of the Sounds is hard to pin down (though, presumably, it's gone up with the promise of a new stadium). But Forbes' recent estimate of the 20 most valuable minor league teams did not include the Sounds. The 20th ranked team on that list — the Oklahoma City RedHawks — came in at $21 million.

For, say, $20 million, the city gets the team ... and it gets the revenue. Not just the increased sales taxes budgeted in the financing plan — all of it. Ticket revenue, beer money, parking costs. All of it.

Nov 14, 2013 9:45 AM

Sounds stadium financing plan unveiled

Mayor's plan calls for Metro to pay $65M
Nov 11, 2013 11:55 AM

Amp Yes Coalition announced to fight for rapid transit

Stop Amp group has been working at grassroots level for months
Sep 26, 2013 2:15 PM

Federal bus cash will build out Murfreesboro Pike corridor

Administrator says Amp now in project development phase
Sep 6, 2013 1:11 PM

Dean unveils riverfront amphitheater, parks plan

Project costs could reach $40M
Aug 27, 2013 1:06 PM

Mayor simultaneously pumps brakes, doubles down on Sulphur Dell

Mayor Karl Dean simultaneously managed expectations and doubled down on his desire to put a new baseball stadium in North Nashville today.

At a courthouse press conference, the mayor confirmed reports from The Tennessean that Metro is pursuing a return to "baseball's historic home in North Nashville," before taking a big pause and emphasizing a crucial conjunctive adverb.

"However," he said. "We are still early in the process."

Dean confirmed the city is exploring the acquisition of state-owned and private land on Jackson between Third and Fifth avenues north, but repeatedly said few details beyond what had already been reported would be forthcoming in the short term.

The crucial question — how the reported $80 million project, including a $40 million stadium — will be paid for went unanswered, beyond Dean's statement that "the deal would have to make sense for the taxpayers."

"We are committed to moving forward only if it makes economic sense," he said.

But, crucially, the mayor did say, at least during his time left in office, there would be a new park in Sulphur Dell or there'd be no new park at all, quashing once and for all any hopes of a stadium at the old Thermal Plant site in SoBro or at the foot of the Korean Veterans Bridge on the East Bank. The former was all-but a done deal in 2008 and the latter was briefly considered a frontrunner as late as last year.

Indeed, the Sounds — and even former Nashville Vols who actually played at the original Sulphur Dell — were on the record, in the past, as being unenthused about the prospect of moving to North Nashville.

Sticking with the theme that all of this is very early — the mayor wouldn't commit to any "hard timeline" on the project — Dean said at some point the area's neighborhood associations would be brought into the discussion, though he said "this is a project for the whole city."

That notwithstanding, At-Large Councilman Jerry Maynard said the relocation of the Nashville Sounds was another positive step for North Nashville.

"Three years ago, we we were working with the mayor and talking about having economic development in North Nashville, north of Broadway. But this is a step process. First of all we did the 28th Avenue Connector, millions of dollars in investment. Look at Jefferson Street. Without the mayor, we would not have gotten that $3 million in grant money to clean up Jefferson Street," Maynard said. "The Sounds were not going to come to North Nashville had we not made the investments on Jefferson Street, Hope Gardens, with Germantown, all of those investments going on there. The Sounds were not coming. And so with all these investments and with the economic growth taking place because of the leadership of the mayor and the council, now the Sounds have agreed to come. And so you have to give credit to the mayor. But we've been working closely with him for the last four years."

One little bit of news, though not unexpected: Toby Compton, executive director of the Sports Authority, was in attendance, all but confirming the new stadium would be part of the authority's bailiwick. Greer Stadium is administered as part of the Metro Parks Department.

Aug 23, 2013 12:00 PM

Dean: Free community college for all

Nashville Mayor Karl Dean (left) and Gov. Bill Haslam (right) kicked off the week at Nashville State’s southeast campus launching a program aimed at giving every public school student a free ride to community college or technology center.

Here are three things to take away:

1.) Under the program — named nashvilleAchieves — every single high school student who can’t afford to pay for college can get the tab picked up, although the program is focused on first-generation, low-income students. The idea is an extension of the tnAchieves program now live in 26 other counties. The move is an attempt to move the needle on both Dean’s and Haslam’s goals to increase college graduation rates. Fewer than a third of Tennessee adults have a post-secondary degree, according to Haslam. And in Davidson County, some 34 percent of adults have a bachelor’s degree or higher, and just over 50 percent have at least an Associate’s Degree, according to the mayor’s office.

2.) The program is a public-private partnership and Mayor Karl Dean is calling on the business community and philanthropists to pitch in. Supporters have raised some $1 million to launch the program and Dean said the city would plug in $750,000 over the next two years. The price tag is estimated at $745,000 for year one, and $1.25 million for year two. Dean is asking for donations to the effort, but is pushing hard for metro employees and the business community to volunteer as mentors to high school seniors to keep students on track.

3.) This program has the fingerprints of Randy Boyd all over it. Boyd is a Knoxville businessman behind Radio Systems, a company headquartered in Knoxville that produces technology-based pet products including the Invisible Fence. Boyd founded knoxAchieves in 2008 and helped launch tnAchieves a year later. Haslam tapped him in January to work as a special advisor for higher education, an unpaid position. According to the mayor’s office, Boyd is covering the overhead program costs privately.

Aug 12, 2013 1:01 PM