Nashville proposes public funds to bring pro women's sports teams to the city
The GIST: The Music City is fine-tuning its women’s sports pitch. On Tuesday, a Nashville Metro council member proposed allocating $60M in public funds to facilities for pro women’s sports teams to entice prospective owners to the Tennessee city.
The details: Councilmember Nancy VanReece said the money would finance separate practice facilities for a WNBA franchise and an NWSL club. She also proposed to use the Nashville Needs Impact Fund — a community-focused project tied to the city’s plans to help fund a new Tennessee Titans NFL stadium — for women’s pro sports–related enterprises.
- Nashville administrators will meet with the Metro Council’s Budget and Finance Committee and the Sports Authority later this month, before voting on the Nashville Needs Impact resolution in early April.
The context: The city has been putting out women’s sports feelers for more than a year. In 2021, leaders commissioned a report on the city’s suitability for women’s sports, finding that a WNBA franchise would generate $9.9M in annual direct spending, and an NWSL club would produce $6.1M a year. Chart-toppers.
- Nashville was reportedly in the mix during the NWSL’s recent expansion race but didn’t score a team. However, the city may still have a shot in the WNBA’s ongoing search for two new franchises.
Zooming out: Keep an eye on Nashville in this era of women’s sports expansion, but its potential candidacy raises an important question: Is Tennessee even a safe destination for WNBA and NWSL athletes? The state has a full abortion ban, and Republican governor Bill Lee signed a bill to deny trans youth access to gender-affirming care just last week.
- The Music City may face an uphill battle — the WNBA condemned the U.S. Supreme Court’s reversal of Roe v. Wade last year, while the NWSL said reproductive rights will factor into expansion decisions.