Monday, November 11, 2013

The Details On Sounds Stadium Are Here (Updated with Dean Comments)

Posted By on Mon, Nov 11, 2013 at 12:31 PM

The Sounds details are here ...

Metro Finance Director Rich Riebeling unveiled the plan at a Monday morning meeting of the Metro Sports Authority.

Under the plan, Metro will be obligated for a total of $65 million — $37 million for the stadium itself, plus a $23 million payment to the state for the land and $5 million in capitalized interest during a 24-month construction phase. The Sounds, simultaneous with the construction of the park, will build a $50 million multi-family and retail development along Third Avenue. A third entity — San Antonio's Embrey Development, which had an option on the land that is slated to be the stadium's left field — will build a 250-unit, $37 million multi-family residential development on the block bounded by Third and Fourth Avenues and Jefferson and Jackson Streets.

A transcript of Mayor Karl Dean's comments are after the jump ...

Dean: "I'm thrilled. I'm very happy that the Sports Authority voted unanimously to recommend the bonds to the Metro Council. This is a good day for Nashville. We're talking about a great addition to our downtown, and I'm particularly thrilled that this is taking place in the northern part of the downtown area, on Jefferson Street. We've made — with the convention center, the investment that the hall of fame has made, the Omni Hotel and other hotels — we've made substantial investments south of Broadway, and this is a big investment in North Nashville, which I think is going to mean a lot to the city moving forward. It's going to engender a lot of economic activity, but it's also going to bring a lot of people over there, which is a good thing.

Reporter: Explain again why this needs to be fast-tracked. It has to all be approved by the end of the year, is that right?

Dean: Yes. There's really three reasons. One would be that it's important for us to move forward while interest rates are low. We don't want to delay and have the opportunity for interest rates to go back up. We also have one of the private parties involved needs to get this deal completed by the end of the year. This is a private party, Embrey, who had been involved in this project of building over there before we just moved forward with the ballpark project. And it's important for us to move forward because we'd like to get the stadium open for the Sounds season in 2015.

Reporter: What happens to the old Sounds property?

Dean: Well, the city owns that. So that's something that we're going to have to discuss with the community and the council, and there will be a whole range of ideas and we'll make a decision on that down the road. Of course, the Sounds are going to have to play there again, so we have plenty of time to think through it and deliberate and thoughtful way.

Reporter: Talk about Metro's portion, $65 million, the calculus you make in deciding whether that's a good use of taxpayer dollars?

Dean: Well, I think the great thing about this is, because this is a public-private partnership — and it truly is a public-private partnership — you have two public entities, the state and the city government, along with two private entities involved. And because of the revenue generated and because of the contributions made by the Sounds and because of some different payments that we're already making that will go away, that will largely cover the cost of issuing the bonds. It's a good deal financially, I believe, for the city.

Reporter: How's this going to impact taxes?

Dean: It won't.

Reporter: Mayor, part of that public-private partnership is $50 million from the Sounds for some retail, development. What kind of agreement is in place to make sure that really comes to fruition?

Dean: Well, there are two different parties involved. Embrey was already involved in their part, which is building family housing. And the Sounds project, which could involve retail and housing, is something that they do. I think people need to remember that the current owners of the Sounds came into baseball with a background in real estate development. In fact, the son of Frank Ward, who's the principal owner of the Sounds, that's how he makes his living is real estate development and building student housing. So they have a lot of experience and we're very confident that they want this to move forward and they have the means to make it move forward. And that it will move forward. We're in a good place.

Reporter: Are they contractually obligated to move forward on that plan, or is it a commitment…

Dean: They're not contractually obligated, but we have a high degree of confidence that they will. As I said, Embrey was already far along on the project before we got involved. So they're merely going to be completing, in a different location, what they had talked about doing before, and they were excited about that investment because like many investors they're excited about Nashville. That investment is only more exciting now, with the ballpark going there. And the Sounds have an interest in getting it done themselves and if the worst thing happened and they couldn't do it, somebody else will do it. This is going to be a very attractive place to locate in.

Reporter: Any areas of concern in getting the finance approved? Things can get a little squirrel-ly up at the state Capitol as you know.

Dean: Well, we've worked hard and thanks for that question Chris, because this is a good opportunity for me to say thank you to the governor and thank you to the state building commission members. We've had a lot of cooperation from the state. They've gone into it with, I think, a great attitude. We worked hard with the legal team with the state to get the deal done, and it's been run by everybody at the state. So I would anticipate that it will pass. There's no guarantees of anything, but certainly this was well-discussed, the lawyers have worked on it, everybody knows what the agreement is, and it was an agreement they knew we were announcing, as witnessed by the fact that the governor was in the press release.

Reporter: The TPS property, is that just where the Nashville School of Arts is, or is that more — 28 acres, I think, is that right?

Dean: It's more, it's more than just the Nashville School of Arts. The state owns the property out there, this is obviously property that I think we have a greater long term interest in than they do. I think obviously we have a very successful school of the arts there and it just made sense to acquire that property. That's why that's included.

Reporter: In the plan this morning there was a whole section about lighting and sound, what are some of your concerns in terms of the people who live over there and this affecting their lives? It's going to be a big change.

Dean: Well it's going to be a big change, because what it's going to do it's going to activate Jefferson Street. There's nothing that I'm happier about. I've been a champion of the site for a while. This is a major investment in North Nashville, it is a major investment in Jefferson Street. It's going to create economic energy, it's going to create in the housing area and it's going to make that area much more appealing. Obviously as you go through the design phase, and you look at lighting and you look at parking issues and all that, those things in consideration of what the neighbors need will be taken into consideration. But this is going to be a big plus in terms of property values and in terms of the viability of that area. It's the right investment in the right place.

Reporter: How do you see that energy extending into the future of the black history museum?

Dean: The more people are aware of the history of Jefferson Street, and I don't know that the history of Jefferson Street is known throughout the city as well as it needs to be known. It's a very rich history involving music and culture, and I think that with the stadium there people are going to become more aware of Jefferson Street and that ties into the mission of the museum, which is to talk about the history of African American music here in Nashville.

Reporter: Mayor, seven years ago, the Sounds under different owners and a different mayor had a deal in place, the city approved it. Obviously it didn't end up coming together because of financing. You seem to have verbal agreements from the Sounds, do you think that's strong enough to say for certain that if this passes this thing is going to get built?

Dean: Well we have more than verbal agreements. We've negotiated leases, and we've gone through a process [that] involved a lot of cooperation from the state, from two different developers, one being the Sounds, to get this project done. So I am confident that they want to get this project done. Remember, the current owners of the Sounds came into a situation where the old owner was leaving and they came into a situation where they knew long-term they needed a new stadium. And that has been high on their agenda of things to get done. It's important to their team in Milwaukee, the Brewers, it's important to the league and I think it's important to the city. So nothing in life is 100 percent, but I am very confident that we have a good deal with good people who want to get this deal done and it will get done.

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