Tennessee Titans Smash Stadium Subsidy Record | Citizens Against Government Waste

Tennessee Titans Smash Stadium Subsidy Record

The WasteWatcher

Despite the pandemic, the highest inflation in 40 years, and an impending recession, it is a good time to be a professional sports team owner.  Since the beginning of 2022, city, county, and state officials have approved billions of dollars for the construction of professional sports stadiums across the country. 

On March 28, 2022, the New York state legislature voted to provide a then-record $850 million for a new stadium for the National Football League’s (NFL) Buffalo Bills.  Major League Baseball’s (MLB) Baltimore Orioles and the NFL’s Baltimore Ravens each received a bottomless $600 million slush fund from the state of Maryland in April 2022.  Meanwhile, the National Hockey League’s (NHL) Arizona Coyotes, MLB’s Oakland (soon to be Las Vegas) Athletics, and the NFL’s Washington Commanders and Chicago Bears appear set to secure massive subsidies in some form in the coming year.  Each of these stadium subsidy hopefuls will be looking to exceed the record-breaking $1.26 billion in public funding for the NFL’s Tennessee Titans’ new stadium.

Funding for the construction of the Titans’ new home will be split among the team, the state of Tennessee, and the city of Nashville.  The state will provide $500 million, and the Nashville City Council voted on April 26, 2023, to cover an additional $760 million, which means $1.26 billion, or 60 percent of the $2.1 billion, will come from taxpayers.

The Titans’ record haul comes after CAGW released a report in March 2023 predicting the appearance of the first $1 billion public subsidy.  The previous record was set when the state of New York joined forces with Erie County to provide $850 million in public funds for the Bills’ new stadium on March 28, 2022.  That record-setting decision came six years after Las Vegas allocated $750 million for the construction of Allegiant Stadium.  Given the rapid acceleration in the number and cost of stadium subsidies, it will probably not take long to hit $1.5 billion or even $2 billion.

Contrary to claims made by proponents of the Titans’ stadium, which are the same as the proponents of every new stadium, it will not drive economic growth or attract new visitors to Nashville.  Outside of Titans home games, the stadium might potentially host a Super Bowl, a College Football Playoff national championship game, or an NCAA Men’s Final Four once each decade in addition to a handful of concerts annually featuring one of the few artists who can fill a 60,000-seat stadium.  These events, however, will fail to generate sufficient revenue to offset the cost of the project.  Like every other publicly funded stadium project, including its predecessor, Nissan Stadium, the new Titans stadium will be a money pit that will never deliver a positive return on the taxpayers’ investment. 

As the stadium arms race continues, it will only get worse for taxpayers.  Because state lawmakers have shown a consistent willingness to ignore their obligations to their constituents and spend massive amounts of public money in building these stadiums, Congress should consider removing tax protections for these deals and making them as unpalatable as possible.  Failing to stop the stadium subsidy scam would be a profound disservice to taxpayers.