NASCAR: Tennessee Governor Proposes $17 Million for Nashville Fairgrounds Speedway Renovations

by Taylor Cunningham

Governor Bill Lee wants Nashville to get deeper into the world of NASCAR. And to make that happen, he’s proposing a $17 million dollar facelift for the historic Nashville Fairgrounds Speedway.

Lee proposed the funding on Tuesday along with his budget amendment. Later this spring, it will head to the TN legislature for approval.

The plan follows an agreement that Mayor John Cooper made with Bristol Motor Speedway last November. Per the agreement, Bristol will be able to lease, manage, and operate Nashville Speedway for 30 years. And the government would help return the 1904 track to NASCAR series standards.

Until Tuesday, there was no word on how Nashville would step up. Lee has yet to release a financing plan.

Bill Lee Aims to Attract NASCAR Cup Series and the Super Bowl to Nashville

In the budget amendment, Gov. Lee also sought $500 million in bonds to build a new roofed Tennesse Titans stadium.

Titans officials have been talking about giving the team a new home for some time with the hopes of drawing more major events such as the Super Bowl, NCAA Tournament Final Four, college football playoffs, and FIFA World Cup. 

Last year, Nashville announced a plan to allocate $600 million to renovate Nissan Stadium. But once the city finalized a report, it showed that the 22-year-old stadium would need more than $1 billion to bring it up to snuff.

So instead of committing so much money to the current building, the city decided it may be best to build an entirely new stadium—decked out with a roof—along the Cumberland River.

According to the Nashville Post, there are only five pro football stadiums with fixed roofs in the country and five more with retracting roofs. The remaining 20 are completely open to the elements.

“We appreciate and welcome the Governor’s willingness to make this potential investment in Nashville,” Mayor Cooper said upon hearing the news. “For the last twenty years, we’ve loved hosting the Tennessee Titans under the original lease. And that first lease now obligates us to provide and maintain a first-class stadium.”

Though many lawmakers have approved the plan, it still has to be approved by the Tennessee General Assembly. And some think the plan may not pass. Major Conservative groups, such as the Beacon Center and Americans for Prosperity, have already voiced disapproval in spending taxpayer money on a new stadium.