Titans CEO Burke Nihill, spoke with a room of commercial development professionals on the future of Nissan Stadium, his alignment with the Imagine East Bank Plan, and commitment to working with the local workforce. He was joined by Kellen DeCoursey Project Executive for Strategic Operations with the Titans front office. Mr. DeCoursey also worked on the Geodis Park project, home of the Nashville Soccer Club. The room represented a cross section of professions including construction, development, engineering, entrepreneurial, and community advocacy groups. The audience was also inclusive with representation from Women and People of Color.
Hosted at the Country Music Hall of Fame & Museum, this marked the second event by the Nashville Market Makers; a networking series lead by Chris Smith with Surety Firm Anderson & Catania and Attorney Jeanne Harrison with Smith Currie & Hancock LLP. The event included a Q&A with prepared questions from the event sponsors and attendees as well as a live Q&A with questions from the audience. There were also networking sessions at both the beginning and end of the event.
Back in 2020, the Titans started working with the City to identify what should be next in terms of the stadium building and bringing it up to current NFL Standards. This included coming up with a, “new lease structure that makes more sense than the one currently in place”, says Nihill. During this segment of the discussion Mr. Nihill talked about how Nissan Stadium has served Nashville for the past 20 years and that a major reinvestment is required to take it into the next 50 Years.
“Preliminary research was conducted to see what it would take to renovate the existing stadium. Once the numbers came, we (The Titans Organization) decided to take a step back and consider if going down the renovation path was the correct move”.
Renovation costs came in at $1.2 Billion. It was then they realized that the more sustainable and responsible solution was to build a new stadium. Details of the negotiation have not been shared publicly according to the last Metropolitan Council East Bank Committee meeting. However, they did share the guiding principles for negotiation outlined by the Mayor, shown in the image below. Costs for the new stadium are currently projected to reach approximately $2 Billion. When asked when negotiations would need to take place before it potentially impacts current cost estimates, Mr. Nihill replied by the end of the year.
- Watch the video at the end of this article for a clear understanding of the stadium costs and current status of negotiations and municipal contributions.
Although lease negotiations are top priority, Mr. Nihill also provided more insight into what to expect in a new Titans Stadium, synergy with the Imagine East Bank Plan, and what steps they are taking to control costs.
“The Imagine East Bank Plan is something that really gets me excited. As someone who lives here, to think of a future partnership with the city, and as a Team, thinking about operating the stadium from that area is a real privilege”Burke Nihill President & CEO of The Tennessee titans
Mr Nihill noted that, “The East Bank vision that the Mayor’s team has released is so much bigger than Nissan Stadium.” There is a lot of optimism around not being surrounded by acres of parking lots, however, he also noted that there must be a paradigm shift as it relates to how we access and use the stadium. He explained that The Titans are committed to working with the city to address concerns about where cars will park now that the parking lot will become a vibrant mixed-use district.
The Titans conducted a study that showed that although there are roughly 7,400 parking spaces at Nissan Stadium there are more than 27,000 potential parking spaces within a 1-mile radius that can be used for events and planning. He also noted that multimodal transportation is a big part of the East Bank plan. “Fans will have to rethink the gameday experience”, explaining that there will have to be a shift from how we think about parking to how we get fans to the game. He also mentioned that having 7,400 cars show up all at once and leave all at once doesn’t provide the best fan experience. However, coming up with a game day plan is a priority.
Mr. Nihill also shared more about the preliminary design elements outside of just the enclosed stadium. He further explained that the stadium design is heavily focused on the fan experience, the seating bowl, and making it a first-class amenity. Their goal is to make sure the new building is smart, functional, efficient, and become a place the fans will continue to want to come to. One of the major focuses of the design is having a diversity of seating products and focusing on ways to access the building for games, concerts, and other events. The current seating configuration at Nissan Stadium consist of the traditional lower bowl, upper bowl, club level and suites. However, the new design will consider the different categories of fans and generational shifts in how we watch the game. The goal is to create a design that give fans the option to watch the game their way.
Burke talked about other venues they are pulling inspiration from both locally and nationally. He referenced how a lot of the millennials in his office enjoy going to the BandBox at the Sounds Stadium where you can enjoy the game experience without watching the game. He referred to some of the investments in smart technology at SoFi Stadium, and how Wrigley field integrates so well with the surrounding neighborhood. There were also discussions about having an innovative bowl design for die-hard fans as well as a place for families with kids and giving them a place to move around.
“The current Nissan stadium is a football first venue and its amazing how may events we hold with the limited space we have.”Kellen DeCoursey Project Executive for Strategic Operations – Tennessee Titans
Discussions around the stadium being enclosed was important to reinforcing the 50 Year lifecycle of the project and hosting as many events as possible. They noted if the dreams are for super bowls and WrestleManias the logistics happens back of house and requires a considerable amount of space; citing such features as multiple tunnels under the field. They are currently consulting with firms that host such events to ensure that it’s considered on the front end of the design.
“A standard initial step in any potential stadium project is to bring on an architect to assist with conceptual planning. MANICA’s work will help us more fully understand key aspects of the project as we continue to explore the possibility of a new stadium. We look forward to working with their team in this discovery phase.”Kate Guerra Vice President, Marketing and Communications – Tennessee Titans
The Titans have engaged architectural firm MANICA for the preliminary design process to ensure the right level of care is taken on the front end of the project. MANICA is a unique design firm with large-scale international stadium experience. Burke emphasized a design that is character & amenity rich and not necessarily flashy. He made a comparison to how iconic the Ryman is as a venue in what can be considered a modest structure. He believes that with the correct design team they can create a stadium that responds to the community around it in a unique way.
MANICA is studying the site to realize what’s possible, understand the challenges, and design a building they can get to the contracting community. This preliminary effort will give the Titans a better sense of what it will cost to build the new stadium. Nihill added that they tasked the architectural firm to focus on something that is genuinely Nashville. He is committed to a design that was truly responds to the surrounding neighborhoods and a building that the people can be proud of. He joked that he wanted to avoid a stadium that look like a spaceship that has landed in the middle of a parking lot. He wants to create an integrated design where people have to question 30 years from now, what came first.
“We want as much local and diverse participation as possible. We are committed to a competitive bidding process as well as apprenticeship, workforce development programs, as well as considering something on the education level.”Burke Nihill President & CEO of The Tennessee titans
The Titans will work with the City to maintain the continuity of events held during the construction of the new stadium and as the future East Bank neighborhood starts to unfold. As negotiation discussions continue stay tuned for more on opportunities for the local workforce.
Below you can find links to my latest article on the East Bank and a video link to the last Metropolitan Council East Bank Committee meeting.
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