Updated at 2:45 p.m. Thursday.
In a new court filing Thursday, Metro says it will continue fighting a lawsuit that’s trying to block construction of a soccer stadium.
The city’s intentions had been questioned by a local chancellor, who noted a discrepancy between legal filings seeking to end the lawsuit and recent statements and actions from Mayor John Cooper. (See initial story below.)
For example, the mayor has put a hold on demolition of buildings to make way for the stadium. And a spokesman for the mayor says an “internal working group” has been convened to review the stadium project. That group includes the site developers, the soccer team, the leader of Public Works and an independent real estate attorney. They’ve not been given a deadline.
That comes as additional court hearings have been scheduled for later this month. The city is also responding to a court order to provide additional documents to the group Save Our Fairgrounds, which has repeatedly accused the city of delaying tactics.
“We have no doubt we’re going to win,” said Jim Roberts, attorney for Save Our Fairgrounds. “This is a slam dunk case for us. Metro has been lying all along and it’s going to come out.”
The attorney also vowed to appeal to higher courts if necessary.
“We’re going to fight for this property forever,” he said. “They’re going to face unending litigation if they insist on staying on this property.”
The judge had asked whether the city wants the case against the stadium dismissed — or if the entire case should be put on hold while the city sorts out its position. City attorneys say they still want to move toward resolution.
Nashville’s effort to build a professional soccer stadium has hit another round of complications, including a potential construction delay and a flurry of court filings.
Mayor John Cooper has put a hold on the start of demolition work at the Fairgrounds site where the stadium would be built.
In turn, that action has raised a new question in the Davidson County court where the group Save Our Fairgrounds is suing to stop Metro from building the stadium.
The case has been procedurally complicated. It was dismissed at one point, but then reopened after an appeal. The group’s attorney has since missed a recent deadline and requested extensions. All the while, he and a Metro attorney have been exchanging curt filings and emails.
But one recent question caught the attention of Chancellor Ellen Hobbs Lyle.
In a court order on Tuesday she said she needs clarity because of an inconsistency in Metro’s legal stance. As pointed out by Save Our Fairgrounds, the issue is that the Metro Law Department has been arguing the case should be dismissed as soon as possible, but Cooper is now questioning the feasibility of the stadium project.
So the chancellor has given Metro a very tight deadline — just two days — to sort out its stance and tell the court. And the city must say whether the court case should be postponed.
Meanwhile, outside of the case, a spokesman for the owners of the Nashville Soccer Club warned about a delay.
“We need to get the demolition started so that it doesn’t delay the already tight construction schedule,” said Zach Hunt. “We are currently working with the mayor and his team to answer their questions.”
The overall legal battle has been protracted. Citing the Metro Charter, Save Our Fairgrounds argues the Metro Fair Board made improper decisions to allow a stadium at the fairgrounds, and that construction work and the future stadium use would interfere with the annual Tennessee State Fair, held in September.
Metro sharply rejects both arguments and has pointed to millions of dollars in site upgrades that it says will enhance — not burden — the fair, the fairgrounds and other activities there.