Sounds of Silence?

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Lost in the cloud of dust thrown up at the legislature was a curious front page story in yesterday's City Paper about the proposed downtown Nashville Sounds ballpark. The headline labeled the stadium "in doubt," and Craig Boerner's lead said the project "isn't dead yet but it's definitely on life support."

The story described a dispute between developers and the city over how much tax increment financing (TIF) can be used for the project. TIF (as the story didn't bother to explain) is a form of loan for a development project to be paid back by the higher property tax bill that results from the development. It's a public subsidy in the sense that the higher property taxes that follow the development don't go into the city treasury as regular ol' tax revenue until the TIF bonds are paid off.

The story's unsubtle suggestion that the ballpark project is all but doomed by the TIF tiff is odd because just about nothing inside the story supports this. Sounds GM Glenn Yaeger is quoted saying "I cannot see how this deal doesn't get done." Ok, he would say that. But neither does anything said in the story by Metro Finance Director David Manning or Mike Edwards of First Tennessee Bank (leading a group of banks investing in the project) indicate that the deal's feeding tube is about to be yanked. Boerner's spin is either unwarranted or poorly supported.

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