Mayor John Cooper wants two 30,000-seat stadiums side by side on Fairgrounds property.
Nashville mayor John Cooper and the Nashville SC Major League Soccer franchise reached a new agreement on Thursday that will pave the way for stadium construction to begin on Fairgrounds property following a months-long impasse.
The original agreement with Nashville Soccer Club owner John Ingram was brokered with David Briley, the previous mayor of Nashville, who was voted out in 2019. Simultaneously, Cooper began negotiating with Speedway Motorsports Inc. to bring NASCAR back to Nashville Fairgrounds Speedway, which also sits on the historic city-owned property.
In recent months, Cooper and Ingram were engaged in a public dispute over what to do with 2.4 acres of land between the speedway and planned site of the stadium. Proponents of the speedway believed construction of a mixed-use commercial residential space on "Parcel 8C" would infringe upon the success of a revitalized speedway.
Under the new agreement, both parties have agreed to a set of principles over how the space will be used, intending for it to become an open plaza between two 30,000-seat stadiums—for soccer and motorsports.
It is viewed as a positive for NASCAR’s potential return to the Music City.
"This agreement allows for a better site plan, providing great civic space that connects the stadium, historic speedway, state fair and exhibition halls, and it will bring up to $650 million of investment to the Fairgrounds," Cooper wrote in a statement. "I’m proud to say that the Community Benefits Agreement has been preserved and confirmed by language included in this new arrangement. I’m also excited by Speedway Motorsports’ desire to partner in bringing NASCAR back to Nashville, and I will work to try to make that happen."
Alongside the construction of the stadium, the historic short track needs millions in improvements and renovations, with Speedway Motorsports and the city of Nashville yet to reach an agreement on the particulars of such a project.
Ingram has agreed to redesign the parcel to allow for a 100-foot buffer between the racetrack and stadium for any renovation work—including what is believed to be a $60 million proposal from Speedway Motorsports.
Nearby Bristol Motor Speedway, a Speedway Motorsports property, has served as the intermediary for all things related to a potential NASCAR return. Speedway vice president and general manager Jerry Caldwell said in his own statement that talks will continue.
"We congratulate Mayor John Cooper and John Ingram on reaching an agreement to move forward with the MLS stadium development," Caldwell said. "We are encouraged by our conversations with the city and share Mayor Cooper’s vision for a truly comprehensive redevelopment of the Fairgrounds that includes a plan to restore the speedway and sustain its future.
"We will continue to work with the city and stakeholders to bring NASCAR racing back to Nashville Fairgrounds Speedway."
Speedway Motorsports Inc. officials met with Nashville and Tennessee state officials earlier in the week.
It is unclear how these developments would affect monthly local and regional racing events like the All-American 400.