Sunday, November 21, 2010

Tennessee Titans greedily take, give few Metro revenues back

It was a golden opportunity for the Tennessee Titans to demonstrate that they can return money to Metro Nashville coffers and have the positive PR of hosting one of the great international pop bands. But instead they denied a request by U2 to play at LP Field next July. According to the Tennessean, LP field would have afforded 28,000 more seats than Vanderbilt Stadium (where the concert will happen), which could have translated to that many more sales taxes for the city. But each U2 ticket for an LP Field concert would have included a $2 user fee, which would have gone to fund stadium maintenance and upgrades. This loss needs to be thrown back in the Titans face when they come demanding upgrades in the future, which you can bet they will.

What the Tennessean story does not say is to what lengths Mayor Karl Dean went to persuade the Titans to work with U2 on making an LP concert happen given the tourist taxes that will not be made from thousands more music fans who could have bought tickets and stayed in Nashville hotels. Tourists taxes are dedicated to fund in part Mayor Dean's pet Music City Center. Karl Dean could have helped shelter the General Fund from taking hits to pay for his project by encouraging the football team to host the concert. The Titans endorsed the new convention center and joined the Music City Center Coalition, so they should make more efforts now to support Dean's monument to tourism.

Nashville hands the Titans $4,000,000 from the Metro Water System each year as part of the agreement that got them here from Houston. That is $4,000,000 that does not go annually to pay for upgrades in our aging water system. Yet, they fumbled this opportunity to generate more revenues that would have been a minimal cost to them. Their defense about grass is goofy, given that 4 other teams are hosting U2 after July 2.  For his part Mayor Dean is angry about the fairgrounds sitting unused most of the week, but otherwise he seems comfortable enough with a more expensive LP Field never having non-football events outside of CMA each summer.

Both the football team and the county government should have done more to get U2 to LP Field and to generate more revenues into the Metro budget. That neither side felt an urgency about it is shameful with the economic challenges we face locally.

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