NASHVILLE, Tenn. (WKRN) — The Metro-Nashville Sports Authority board is currently made up of 13 members appointed by the mayor. But the state is taking nearly half of that.
A new law reconstitutes the board so the mayor appoints seven while the other six come from the state—two from the governor, two from the Speaker of the Senate, and two from the Speaker of the House.
It originally began with the state appointing even more but was amended over time.
“Usually, when everybody walks away and nobody’s happy, it’s probably the best thing. I really feel like from my perspective, it’s not what I wanted,” Rep. Ryan Williams (R-Cookeville) said. “I know from the mayor’s perspective, it’s not what he wanted. From the Titans perspective, it’s not what they wanted. But in the end, I think everybody got a little bit of what they wanted.”
Williams sponsored the legislation, which ended up passing on party lines and frustrating Democrats.
“It makes us ask the question, ‘What is the end goal? What are we trying to do here?’” Rep. Harold Love Jr. (D-Nashville) said. “Don’t you see the difficulty and pain it’s going to cause all of us because it then becomes more difficult to work with people when they do bring bills like that?”
Last week, Gov. Bill Lee talked about the need to put politics aside when it came to the relationship between the city and the state. “There’s a great desire to work together,” Lee said. “Everyone recognizes that only when Nashville is prospering then the state is prospering.”
But Democrats say the state inserting itself into the sports authority is the antithesis of what Lee is preaching, especially since there are sports authorities around the state that aren’t being shuffled.
“The Super Bowl will be coming here when that new stadium is built,” Rep. Bo Mitchell (D-Nashville) said. “I think they just want to cling onto something that’s successful.”
The move comes after Nashville denied the 2024 Republican National Convention, though Williams says that didn’t factor into his introduction of the bill. Instead, he said it’s more associated with the fact that the state is footing $500 million for the new Tennessee Titans stadium.
“Mine was really about the fiduciary duty that I felt like the state had because we were investing the taxpayer dollars in that stadium,” Williams said.
For the stadium, $840 million will come from the Titans and the NFL while the other $760 million comes from the city.
Lee signed the sports authority legislation last Thursday, and it immediately became law.
You’ll see the board start to shift at the beginning of next year when the changes take effect.