The Metro Parks Board denied a request yesterday by the owners of a
professional soccer franchise to sell beer at its games in Ezell Park due to a conflict with a local ordinance.
A city ordinance allows the selling of beer at professional sporting events only if the park space that is being used is leased. The Nashville Metros have leased the park in the past, but according to co-owner Ken Renner, the city recently asked the franchise's owners not to renew the lease due to potential plans to expand a nearby correctional facility. Instead, the Metros settled for an annual permit for use of the park in the Antioch area.
The ordinance, which previously just allowed for "professional baseball," was amended to include all professional sports. To meet the Metros' request, "the law would have change again . . . [that] is what it amounts to," said Metro Parks Director Jim Fyke.
Renner pointed out that exceptions have been made for events at Riverfront Park. However, Fyke said, "urban parks are exempt from [the] ordinance."
Renner said the team has overcome financial struggles in the past. Beer
sales would have a positive impact on attendance, he said, which would also have an impact on sponsorship. Beer sales would also make up about 15 percent of the team's profit, he said.
Board members suggested that the team's owners contact the mayor's office about negotiating a temporary lease.
The board also approved a new policy, which allows the development of public park land by private enterprise.
The policy "enable[s] the department [of parks and recreation] to evaluate proposals seeking to create public/private partnerships to expand and/or enhance the recreational services to the citizens of Nashville."
The policy provides for the "protection of public assets," stating, "any
public/private partnership created cannot financially encumber Metro
assets." It also reminds that the board "is already familiar with the
general rule that existing Metro facilities must be made available to all members of the public on an equal basis."