by Steven Hale
Since word leaked in August that a new Nashville Sounds baseball stadium was in the works, some questions have been answered.
Just last week, project planners and backers unveiled more details about what the stadium would look like, and how it would fit into the Germantown and Salemtown neighborhoods north of downtown. Thankfully, Tennessean columnist Gail Kerr has looked into the fate of Greer Stadium's guitar-shaped scoreboard. And while the financial details of the project are yet to be released, Mayor Karl Dean and his administration have said all along that the city would only move forward if the deal made "economic sense" and insisted that the Sounds would have "skin in the game."
There's one question that hasn't been answered, though, if it's even been asked. Why should Metro have any skin in the game. In other words, why don't the Sounds pay for their own stadium?
In an email to Pith, Finance Director Rich Riebeling responds to that very question:
"As you look around the country I believe that most projects of this nature are done in some form of public-private partnership," he writes. "We’ve approached this issue that way and will go forward only if we think it is in the best economic interests of the City. We believe this project is beneficial as it connects the Germantown area to Downtown while providing economic redevelopment along one of Nashville’s historic corridors, Jefferson Street."
As far as we can tell, Riebeling is right when he says that's just the way it's done. Most professional sports teams, and in this case Minor League Baseball teams, receive a good deal of public money to assist in the construction of their stadiums. Whether there is substantive economic impact on the backend is the subject of much debate. But it's a great deal if you can get it.