NASHVILLE, TN – The Tennessee State Fair Association (TSFA) filed suit Friday to block Metro’s plan to build a MLS stadium at the State Fairgrounds. Congressman John Rose (R-TN 6th District) is a plaintiff in the case and president of the TSFA.
Rose flew back from Washington late Thursday to be in Chancellor Ellen Lyle’s courtroom Friday morning as she heard arguments in another lawsuit brought by Fairgrounds vendors. Metro is asking the judge to make a summary judgement and dismiss the vendors’ lawsuit.
Metro attorney Lora Fox argued that the city’s plan to build a stadium at the Fairgrounds is reasonable and rational and that Metro has the authority to do it.
Jim Roberts, representing Save Our Fairgrounds, said just the opposite. He said Metro would be violating the city charter and two state laws if it built a stadium. He argued a stadium would so disrupt the existing uses at the Fairground, it would cause them to fail.
The new lawsuit alleges building a stadium would violate the city’s obligation to hold an annual state fair, at least not a good one, because there would be no room for a midway with carnival rides.
Rose said the TSFA uses all 117 acres for the fair and parking. Under the city’s plan, the State Fair would have no more than 100 acres and probably less because 40 acres that used to be asphalt parking are being turned into soccer fields.
Fox argued the plaintiffs had to show evidence that they would be harmed and since they hadn’t, Lyle should dismiss the complaint. Roberts argued that if she did that, the plaintiffs could not depose witnesses and present evidence at trial to make their case.
Roberts argued that the city has the burden to show the soccer stadium would not harm the existing uses and it must show how its plan would benefit the Fair Board. He said MLS team owner John Ingram would get the lion’s share of the revenue generated by the stadium and 10 acres of private development.
Lyle said she would rule on the summary judgement in about a week. She must also decide whether or not to merge the two lawsuits and hear them together.