Tennessee Lawmakers Should Reject Titans’ Stadium Deal | Citizens Against Government Waste

Tennessee Lawmakers Should Reject Titans’ Stadium Deal

The WasteWatcher

Tennessee has become the latest in a string of cities and states to consider offering hundreds of millions of dollars in public subsidies for stadiums used primarily by the National Football League (NFL).  After reports emerged that the cost of renovating Nissan Stadium in Nashville, the current home of the Tennessee Titans, would outweigh the expense of building a new facility, Gov. Bill Lee (R) announced his intention to ask the state legislature to provide $500 million for construction of a new domed stadium. 

If approved by the legislature, the funding would not bring the desired economic success.  Instead, it would put Tennessee taxpayers on the hook for a subsidy to the richest sports league in the world.  A domed stadium, proponents argue, would allow the facility to host the Super Bowl, College Football Playoff National Championship, winter concerts, and make it a contender to host the NCAA’s Final Four basketball tournament.

Even if the stadium plays host to major events outside of the Titans’ eight or nine regular season home games each year, it will still fail to generate sufficient revenue to cover the costs.  Each of the major events that a domed stadium could potentially host are in a different location each year.  As a result, Nashville cannot expect to host more than a few of these additional events over a decade following completion of the new stadium.

If it is approved, the stadium proposal would be one of the largest subsidies for an NFL stadium in history, behind Las Vegas’s $750 million payment to host the Raiders and the proposed $850 million deal among the state of New York, Erie County, and the Buffalo Bills for a new facility.

Similar stadium construction projects have been completed without any public support in recent decades.  For instance, MetLife Stadium, home to the New York Giants and Jets, was completed entirely with private funds in 2010, and has hosted a Super Bowl in addition to a variety of other major events including concerts, major college football games, and soccer matches.  Similarly, SoFi Stadium, home of the Los Angeles Rams and host of Super Bowl LVI, cost $5 billion to build without any taxpayer support. 

Numerous studies going back decades have debunked the idea that taxpayer-funded stadiums create economic growth.  Whether they are built for football, baseball, basketball, hockey, or soccer, the benefits of these facilities go primarily, and in many cases exclusively, to the franchise owners and professional sports leagues.  Taxpayer funds to build a new stadium for the Titans would suffer the same fate.

The Titans arrived in Nashville in time for the 1997 season after spending their first 36 years as the Houston Oilers.  Then-owner Bud Adams directed the move to Nashville only after the city of Houston refused to subsidize a football-only replacement to the Astrodome to house the team.  After Nashville taxpayers paid 71 percent, or $207 million of the $292 million cost for Nissan Stadium in 1999, the team’s ownership is once again attempting to hold taxpayers hostage to cover most of the cost of a new facility that the ownership should be paying for themselves.  Tennessee lawmakers should stand up to this threat and refuse to put taxpayers on the hook for a project that will bring them little to no tangible benefits.

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