The City Council on Tuesday night voted 9-0 to send the plan for a Southside Stadium at the U.S. Pipe/Wheland Foundry site on to the City Industrial Bond. That body is expected to send it back to the City Council for final approval.
The County Commission at a Wednesday agenda session is to take up discussion of the project that involves a new city/county Sports Authority that will issue $72 million in bonds to build the "community" stadium. The County Commission is due to vote next Wednesday. It has already been approved 5-1 by the County Industrial Development Board.
A Tax Increment Financing District is to be set up and taxes collected from the district are to go toward paying off the stadium debt.
The City Council voted 8-1 to waive certain requirements that private developers must follow on a TIF. Those include filling out an application and paying certain fees. The only no vote was by Councilwoman Jenny Hill.
She asked, "What if the thing costs $15 million more (than projected)?"
Brent Goldberg, city chief financial officer, said the city would then leave out certain "bells and whistles" until they could be afforded. He said, "If we have to leave off a beer garden for the first two years, we will."
He said it appears that construction costs, including materials and labor, are leveling off or even going down.
Mr. Goldberg said the first use of the TIF proceeds would be to pay off stadium debt. He said down the line would be infrastructure and completing the Alton Park Connector, a trail along an abandoned rail line.
Jermaine Freeman, of city economic development, said the city also got a waiver of certain TIF requirements when the East Chattanooga Rising project was approved in 2019. Such exemption is allowable under state law, it was stated.
He said the city is still working with Core Development on a memorandum of understanding on what it will commit to in projects at the long-vacant brownfield site. He said a "community benefits agreement" is promised, but not yet firmed up.
Councilwoman Carol Berz said, "It appears that we don't have a number of the pieces in place, and I have a problem with that."
Councilman Chip Henderson said the brave push forward though all details may not be worked out, while the timid stand pat until everything is finalized on paper.