NASHVILLE, Tenn. — The Tennessee Titans have moved a step closer to funding a new, closed stadium that’s estimated to cost between $1.9 billion and $2.2 billion.
The Tennessee Legislature approved $500 million in bonds Thursday night for a closed stadium. The proposal now goes to Governor Bill Lee’s office, where the Republican is expected to sign the agreement.
“It was a huge step, and we are very grateful to the Governor and the Legislature for their support and cooperation,” Titans President and CEO Burke Nihill told The Associated Press on Friday. . “But there is still a lot of work to do.”
About two-thirds of the stadium’s estimated cost was factored in with the $500 million in government bonds and $700 million coming from Titans owners. The rest of the funding has yet to be arranged, and talks between the Titans and Nashville officials have been ongoing for months.
Ownership and maintenance of the new stadium also remains unclear.
Currently, Nashville owns and leases Nissan Stadium to the Titans. The stadium opened in 1999 as part of the deal that lured the then-Houston Oilers to Tennessee in 1997, and a quirky renovation plan ended when costs doubled to $1.2 billion of dollars. The current lease requires Nashville ratepayers to pay for maintenance and upgrades.
Nihill said they meet regularly with Nashville officials to resolve these “complexities.”
The NHL’s Nashville Predators agreed to a revised 30-year lease in May 2019 to eventually end payments required by Nashville for Bridgestone Arena maintenance and upgrades, replacing sales tax money and tickets.
Not all state lawmakers agree on the merits of Tennessee’s aid to the Titans.
“Let them use their own money to invest it. I don’t think they should be using Tennessee taxpayers, and I’m not ashamed to stand up for Tennessee taxpayers,” Republican Jerry Sexton shouted on the bedroom floor. He added that he didn’t want the legislature to act like “every woke place.”
Nihil noted that majority owner Amy Adams Strunk and the Adams family have already paid for the team headquarters expansion which is now wrapped up in a “massive investment”. The family have been working for months to raise money for the stadium project with a farm already sold.
“They will continue to do so because they are ready to invest as much as possible in a new building and in Nashville,” Nihil said.
The Buffalo Bills are the latest team to get help from county and city officials to help pay for a new stadium. The Bills are moving into a $1.4 billion stadium built across from their existing facility, which was erected in 1973 and is the fourth oldest in the NFL. New York and the county commit $850 million with owners Terry and Kim Pegula, and the NFL pays the rest.
The Titans and Bills are both targeting the start of the 2026 season to open their new stadiums.
Nashville and Buffalo could be in line to host an upcoming Super Bowl after moving into their new homes.
The NFL recently awarded Super Bowls to Minnesota, Atlanta, Los Angeles and Las Vegas after those teams opened new stadiums.
“Unquestionably, Nashville would make a Super Bowl bid, and we hope and expect Nashville to be a pretty compelling bid if it had a stadium with a roof,” Nihill said.
The new Titans stadium would be built in the parking lots between Nissan Stadium and Interstate 24. Team officials hope to have renderings and designs by this fall, which will determine whether the stadium will feature a fixed roof or a retractable roof as well as the number of places and a final estimate.