The Nashville Sounds and Mayor Karl Dean may not be talking anytime soon after yesterday.
That’s because the Sounds moved forward Wednesday with state legislation providing a financing method for a new Nashville Sounds stadium despite Dean’s office request not to do so.
The mayor’s office said the Sounds were committing an “act of bad faith.”
“The fact that they are bringing this legislation forward after having been specifically asked not to, the city considers that an act of bad faith on the part of the Sounds,” said Eddie Davidson, Metro Nashville’s lobbyist on Capitol Hill.
“As a result of this act of bad faith, the city will not be holding any further negotiations or discussions with the Sounds or any of their representations as a result of this action.
“The city believes that this bill is a step backward in the move to keep baseball in Nashville, Tennessee.”
Davidson said the Sounds needed to be focusing on private dollars as opposed to public financing.
Despite that statement, the three-member Senate Tax Subcommittee, composed of two Davidson County members, voted 2-1 to give a positive recommendation to the Sounds bill.
The Sounds legislation would allow sales taxes collected at the new stadium through tickets, concessions and other expenditures to pay the debt on the facility. Sales taxes collected from hotels and restaurants on the stadium’s footprint would also go toward paying down the debt.
Some observers were shocked the Sounds would take a step that would severely strain if not sever ties with Dean’s office.
In a statement, Glenn Yaeger, the Sounds’ general manager, said the ball club was pleased with the Senate panel’s vote and remained hopeful discussions could still continue with Dean’s office.
“We hope everyone will view this as a positive step towards building a ballpark and keeping baseball in Nashville,” Yaeger said. “We are hopeful to sit down with the mayor and have continued discussions.”
Dean’s office, however, was miffed over the Sounds’ actions.
“We have met with the Sounds and made it clear that there was a level of private financial commitment that had to be in place before we had any serious dialogue,” said Greg Hinote, Dean’s deputy mayor. “That hasn’t happened. From our perspective, any commitment of public money is putting the cart before the horse.”
Sen. Joe Haynes (D-Goodlettsville) voted to recommend the legislation along with Sen. Diane Black (R-Gallatin). Sen. Douglas Henry (D-Nashville) voted against the bill.
It now goes forward to the full Senate Finance Committee and faces many significant hurdles before having a chance at becoming law.
Haynes, a Dean supporter during the mayor’s race, commended Dean for handling the Nashville Predators’ negotiations but said he favored the financing concept the Sounds were using through the legislation.
“I’m going to support (it) and I’m going to do so with the best wishes to the mayor and his ability to deal with the Sounds,” Haynes said.
The financing method proposed for a new Sounds’ stadium is similar to the one used to pay the debt on LP Field, Farr said.
The Sounds were previously planning on building a ballpark in downtown Nashville’s old thermal plant site before plans fell through.
David McMahon, a Sounds’ lobbyist, said the ball club is not “tied to one particular site” for building a new ballpark.
Nate Rau contributed to this story.