Nashville MLS stadium project wins final Metro Council approval

6 September 2018

Nashville's Major League Soccer expansion team is getting a home — and the city's fairgrounds is now in for a major and controversial overhaul.

After the Metro Council voted late Tuesday to give the project its final stamp of approval, the city’s focus will shift to the work needed to construct a new 30,500-seat stadium in time to open in 2021.

And all eyes will be on a landmark agreement between the MLS team’s ownership and a union-backed community group that outlines a $15.50-per-hour minimum wage for stadium workers, and spells out affordable housing requirements at a mixed-use development near the stadium and safeguards for construction workers.

Approval of the much-debated $275 million stadium project at the Fairgrounds Nashville — including the 10-acre mixed-use development with housing, retail, restaurants and a hotel — marks a win for Mayor David Briley, who put his political capital on the line to push the project.

And it's a sigh of relief for the expansion team's billionaire lead owner John Ingram, who faced a scare getting the stadium approved.

The key action Tuesday was a 31-8 vote to demolish existing buildings and structures at the fairgrounds south of downtown.

Nashville Metro Council approved the use of the Fairgrounds property as the future home of the MLS Stadium. Nashville Tennessean

The ordinance, which also enacts a $1.75 ticket tax at the stadium that will increase over time, faced a 27-vote threshold for passage, presenting a greater test than the three other bills, which needed just simple majorities. In the end, it picked up seven additional votes than the 24 it received on a second of three votes, making for a comfortable margin.

Its approval was followed by loud cheers from happy soccer fans wearing blue and gold Nashville Soccer Club gear and a few jeers from angry opponents dressed in red.

"Giving it away!" one woman yelled from the gallery. "Choke on your soccer ball!"