New scoreboards with high definition video screens, an enhanced sound system and additional elevators are among the upgrades headed to LP Field before the kick-off of the 2012 National Football League season.
The Metro Council finalized a stadium enhancement deal between the Tennessee Titans and the city Tuesday night, voting 33-3 to approve a bond issuance not exceeding $28 million to finance enhancements to 12-year-old LP Field. Covering the bonds are dollars collected via an LP Field user-fee already applied to Titans tickets, which the council voted to bump from $2 to $3 Tuesday by approving a separate ordinance.
“We have an obligation to maintain this stadium,” Councilman Bruce Stanley told colleagues prior to Tuesday’s vote.
Metro pays an annual $1 million subsidy for the capital improvements of 12-year-old LP Field. The Titans are tasked with overseeing the daily operations of the stadium, but Metro is responsible for its long-term capital needs.
Under the approved deal, Metro has pledged its non-tax revenues –– which comes from a variety of different fees –– to cover the difference if attendance were to dive and the ticket tax revenues are insufficient.
Don MacLachlan, the Titans executive vice president for administration and facilities, said LP Field had “become woefully behind” other NFL stadiums in amenities. “Now was the time to move forward with these enhancements,” he said.
Among other improvements include the installation of the ribbon boards around the stadium, the replacement of the stadium’s control room as well as new areas aimed at improving the game-day experience for fans.
“The fans that come to LP Field next year for any and all events will notice a dramatic difference,” MacLachlan said, adding that it will be a “busy offseason,” with construction set to begin as early as late January.
The stadium-upgrade package overcame what amounted to minor opposition in the council. The proposal’s lone dissenters were councilmen Phil Claiborne, Duane Dominy and Tony Tenpenny.
Claiborne, though agreeing upgrades are warranted, said he’s concerned about the life of the bond payments, which extends through 2037. The current stadium lease between Metro and the Titans ends nine years earlier in 2028, he pointed out.
“The deal is upside down,” Claiborne said.
“We don’t have any guarantee that people are going to be sitting in the seats over there, where this revenue is supposed to be coming from,” he said. “If we have an unfortunate one or two seasons, such as we had last year, there’s no guarantee that folks are not going to be bailing from their PSLs.”