Nashville’s pursuit of a Major League Soccer stadium for its fairgrounds property took two steps forward on Monday night and set the Metro Council on a path toward decisive votes on Sept 4.
The council advanced a rezoning request to allow 10 acres around the proposed stadium to be turned into a mixed-use development. And shortly before the vote, the terms of a “community benefits agreement” between activists and the team’s ownership were announced.
The two sides have been negotiating directly — separate from council action — and said Monday that they have an agreement awaiting signatures.
Odessa Kelly, with Stand Up Nashville, told the council that the deal would set a livable wage of $15.50 for stadium workers. It would also place affordable housing and a child care center into a mixed-used development that would surround the stadium.
“This has been a great stride. Nashville Soccer Holdings has come a long way — a very long way — in helping us change how we do development in this city,” Kelly said.
Her group, and some council members, have withheld stadium support pending such an agreement.
Other council members still have questions about enforcing such a deal.
Tension Builds For Final Vote
Council members also listened to more than 100 comments — roughly 2-to-1 in favor of the stadium — during a four-hour public hearing Monday.
Supporters included former Tennessee Titans star Eddie George, the Urban Land Institute, a youth soccer association, numerous fans of Nashville SC, several immigrants and the publisher of a Spanish-language newspaper. They touted the stadium and surrounding development as a revitalizing force for South Nashville and the Nashville Fairgrounds, and as a unifying sport for the diversifying city.
Opponents, although outnumbered at the meeting, said they had hundreds — or thousands — of signatures against the stadium. Those who spoke, including racecar drivers and flea market vendors, blasted what they see as a government handout of property and as a threat to the events currently held at the fairgrounds. They also said that housing doesn’t fit with prior urban planning goals outlined for the area.
Councilman Colby Sledge, who represents the area, told his council peers that further discussion will follow before the final vote next week — and that the rezoning could still be amended.
The action sets up a dramatic set of votes for Sept. 4, including a request to demolish some fairgrounds buildings. That component specifically requires a higher threshold of 27 votes to pass.
The council’s vote on Monday didn’t provide a clear indicator of what might happen. The rezoning advanced 20-9 — but four members abstained and seven did not vote.