by Steven Hale
The Metro Council signed off on a new baseball stadium for the Nashville Sounds last week, but Charlie Tygard has one more request.
The at-large councilman who opposed the deal which he believed saddled taxpayers with more than their share of risk has filed a resolution asking the Davidson County Delegation to the state legislature to support legislation allowing for a ticket tax at the Sulphur Dell ballpark. State law only allows such a tax for stadiums that seat at least 30,000 people (fans at Bridgestone Arena, which seats less, seat user fee which is structured differently but has a similar effect). Memorializing resolutions of this sort are non-binding and have no legislative effect, but occasionally serve as the impetus for debate. In this case, Tygard's resolution at least indicates that there may be some legislative push for a ticket tax which "must be used exclusively to defray the cost of constructing, operating, renovating, expanding or improving the municipal stadium, or for the payment of debt service."
Read the full resolution after the jump:
WHEREAS, on December 10, 2013, the Metropolitan Council enacted legislation approving agreements with the State of Tennessee and a private developer for the acquisition of property in the Sulphur Dell area of downtown Nashville to construct a new minor league ballpark for the benefit of the Nashville Sounds, and authorizing the issuance of $65 million in Sports Authority revenue bonds to fund the construction of the ballpark; and
WHEREAS, Tennessee Code Annotated § 7-3-202 authorizes the Metropolitan Council, by ordinance, to levy a tax on the privilege of attending any event at a municipal stadium with a seating capacity of at least 30,000 in an amount not to exceed ten percent (10%) of the consideration charged for spectators attending the event; and
WHEREAS, the proceeds of the municipal stadium event tax, also known as a “ticket tax”, must be used exclusively to defray the cost of constructing, operating, renovating, expanding or improving the municipal stadium, or for the payment of debt service on bonds issued by the Metropolitan Government (or any public instrumentality of the Metropolitan Government) for the construction, operation, renovation, expansion or improvement of the municipal stadium; and
WHEREAS, the new ballpark to be constructed at the Sulphur Dell site is anticipated to have a seating capacity of less than 30,000, which means it is not eligible for the municipal stadium event tax under the current state law; and
WHEREAS, a key principle of good government is that facilities that do not satisfy one of the government’s core functions of public safety or education be paid for by users of the facility; and
WHEREAS, it is in the best interest of the citizens and taxpayers of Nashville and Davidson County that the Metropolitan Government be given the authority to implement an event tax at the new minor league stadium to be constructed at Sulphur Dell for the purpose of paying a portion of the debt on the stadium.
NOW, THEREFORE, BE IT RESOLVED BY THE COUNCIL OF THE METROPOLITAN GOVERNMENT OF NASHVILLE AND DAVIDSON COUNTY:
Section 1. That the Metropolitan County Council hereby goes on record as requesting the Davidson County Delegation to the Tennessee General Assembly to introduce and support the necessary legislation to allow the Metropolitan Government to charge a ticket tax for events at the new minor league ballpark to be constructed at the Sulphur Dell site. Such authority could be accomplished either by a reduction in the minimum seating capacity, or by allowing the Metropolitan Council to develop its own ticket tax policy for the new stadium.
Section 2. That the Metropolitan Clerk is directed to send a copy of this Resolution to each member of the Davidson County Delegation to the Tennessee General Assembly.
Section 3. That this Resolution shall take effect from and after its adoption, the welfare of the Metropolitan Government of Nashville and Davidson County requiring it.
Sponsored by: Charlie Tygard
Neither of the two council members who are also state representatives — Bo Mitchell and Darren Jernigan — voted for the $65 million bond issue to finance the stadium. Mitchell voted against the bill, while Jernigan abstained (as he did on the two other ballpark-related items).
Meanwhile, the Sounds are currently taking deposits to reserve seats for the 2015 season at the new stadium.