Nashville Mayor John Cooper on Nissan Stadium revamp: 'There can’t be big financial subsidies going to a team'

NASHVILLE, Tenn. – Last August, Amy Adams Strunk told The Midday 180 she doesn't want a new stadium but likes the idea of a large-scale retrofit like the Dolphins did to Hard Rock Stadium.

Wednesday, also on The Midday 180, Nashville Mayor John Cooper fielded my question about the future of Nissan Stadium with an answer that said he does not envision the city making a big investment in such a renovation.

The Titans' lease expires in 2029 but the city could need to do some significant upgrades if it's to be a host for the 2026 World Cup. Stadium

“I think the team and the city is going to work well together understanding that there can’t be big financial subsidies going to a team,” said Cooper, who’s current term ends in 2023. “We did that 30 years ago, but that’s now recognized around the country that it’s a tough way for cities to spend money when we’re trying to serve our entire community really well.”

That initial investment of about $150 million is something Cooper hit on twice in his answer to the one question.

The typical leverage a team has when it comes time for a new stadium or a major renovation is not something the Titans are likely to employ: a threat to leave.

While there were attendance issues the team was working to sort out before the pandemic set a lot of things aside, Strunk has made major investments – making major additions to the teams administrative stance that enhance the marketing and creative departments, and beginning construction on a 60,000 square foot building to fit everyone on their campus.AmyAdamsStrunk2019

She loves the city, has a real connection with the fans and has helped the franchise grow deeper roots.

But she and the ownership group are not among the richest in the NFL, and what would help get them there is having their team play in a much better venue.

I believe she and her family should make as big an investment as it warranted to get the Titans a building that people want to go to and that will offer features that see into the future and can keep it modern for as long as possible.

She, team president Burke Nihill and chief legal officer and senior vice president of business affairs Adolpho Birch will have to work with Cooper and perhaps a successor to find a path to a solid public-private partnership. 

“We are grateful that the football business has been such a success and such a success here,” Cooper said. “And we need to keep that success continued and we want the city to help piggyback on that success.

“We made a substantial investment initially to have them here. The water department still spends $5 million a year subsidizing the stadium, for example, that’s coming out of your water rate, this is not necessarily free. But you’ve got to do the right urban planning that takes the city to the next level, that takes the city to the next level.

“I do think we are going to be the most exciting city in the country in the 21srt century but we’ve got to get these next steps right."

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