Photo: Nissan Stadium – Home of the Tennessee Titans
Photo Credit: Brent Moore / CC
Published April 26, 2021
By Jon Styf [The Center Square contributor] –
A bill that encompasses tax relief for the Tennessee Titans is expected to eventually amount to $10 million in annual tax breaks for the NFL team.
House Bill 1437 is scheduled to be discussed in the Tennessee House Finance, Ways and Means Committee on Monday, and its Senate companion, Senate Bill 1543, has been sent to the Senate Calendar Committee.
The bill sends nearly $2 million in state sales tax revenue from sales at Nissan Stadium back to the Titans for stadium improvements until the stadium’s current bonds are paid off. That amount will increase in 2029 to $5.4 million annually from a special state account to the Metro Nashville Sports Authority.
“This bill will allow state sales tax that is collected at the stadium to go toward stadium renovations,” House Finance, Ways and Means Subcommittee Chair Gary Hicks, R-Rogersville, said.
The bill was the result of negotiations between the Titans and Gov. Bill Lee and his staff.
“The proposed legislation would result in significant foregone state revenue and a corresponding increase in local revenue,” the fiscal note on the bill reads. “Due to multiple unknown variables, the timing and magnitude of such impacts cannot be quantified with reasonable certainty. However, upon full development of the campus, such amounts could exceed $10,000,000 per year.”
A large part of the bill asks the state to forego 50% of the sales tax generated from a proposed East Bank development on its 130 acres of land near Nissan Stadium.
The bill notes plans for the 130 acres around the stadium could “include hotels, retail establishments, eating and drinking places, and other similar establishments.” Once those are in place, the annual sales tax amount given back to the team is estimated to be $10 million.
“These types of situations go on forever and forever, amen. … At some point, these types of situations need to be sunsetted,” Sen. Todd Gardenhire, R-Chattanooga, said. “If they were just saying they wanted to keep it inside the stadium, I wouldn’t have as much heartburn. But when they want to use foregone tax revenue to develop something and keep those proceeds and make money off it, I just have a philosophical problem with that.”
The state takes in an average of $5.4 million per year from sales tax revenue at Nissan Stadium. Of that, $3.6 million has been used for stadium bond debt repayment, and the rest has remained in the state account for repayment. That additional money would be shifted to an account for stadium improvements through 2029.
The bill keep the sales tax plan in place as long as the Titans continue their lease at Nissan Stadium.