Few days have gone by lately without new information about the future of Nashville’s pro soccer stadium, as well as other changes at the Nashville Fairgrounds.
To catch you up on the most recent developments, here are the latest updates on six key storylines going on at the Fairgrounds:
1. A stadium deal has been reached.
Negotiations climaxed on Thursday, with the mayor and Nashville Soccer Holdings announcing a new deal for the stadium. The plan shifts $54 million in costs to the ownership group and carves out an unspecified additional amount of open space on a key adjacent parcel.
2. The mixed-use development is evolving.
The ownership group still intends to build a 10-acre mixed-used development across three parcels. The key change is that they’ve agreed to include more green space and to design the project with fairgrounds connectivity in mind.
The terms also allow the development to potentially shift onto neighboring parcels, or for the density of buildings to be reallocated among them.
3. Demolition can go ahead.
Demolition of old fairgrounds buildings has been delayed roughly four months, but officials say that can now proceed “immediately.” A permit is being prepared, but practically speaking, prep work involving utilities at the buildings could take a few weeks before the teardowns begin.
The group Save Our Fairgrounds said it will also seek an injunction to stop demolition.
4. Racing talks need more time.
The speedway at the fairgrounds is also in a key transition moment, with officials openly discussing how to draw NASCAR back to Nashville. By Thursday, however, no concrete plan had been formulated, and funding was still unclear.
Mayor John Cooper said he’s still intent on making racing and soccer a side-by-side success.
“Two 30,000-seat stadiums, right across from each other, is an incredible opportunity,” he said. “But you do have to get the land plan right.”
5. The state fair airs its needs.
The stadium plan has drawn stiff opposition from current users of the fairgrounds, including flea market vendors and defenders of the Tennessee State Fair. Those groups say the stadium will interfere with — or destroy — the fair, and that such an outcome would violate protections in the Metro Charter.
But this week, Tennessee State Fair Manager Scott Jones told the Metro Fair Board that he’s “pretty confident that we can definitely put on a good fair here.
“It will not be at the historic levels that we’ve had in the past … but overall I think we can definitely move in the right direction,” Jones said.
Fair organizers do have some concerns.
Jones has asked that stadium construction not get in the way. He also wants additional funding to help the fair make adjustments.
Housing livestock, for example, would be difficult without changes.
“If the powers that be decide to correct some of the things and make some of the improvements that we need to make, then we can definitely put on a good fair,” Jones told WPLN.
The mayor said he’s aware the fairgrounds needs more money. He also noted that his negotiation guaranteed more open space, which he says will benefit the state fair.
6. A lawsuit could still intervene.
The future of the fair also plays a central role in a pending lawsuit filed by Save Our Fairgrounds, which will soon be set for trial.
A Nashville judge ruled that a stadium is an allowable use at the fairgrounds, but that its impact on the fair does raise enough questions to warrant a trial. A hearing on Feb. 21 should set the trial date.