Representatives from three regional professional sports teams spoke Tuesday morning at Franklin Tomorrow’s Breakfast with the Mayors at Rolling Hills Community Church.
County Mayor Rogers Anderson spoke first, explaining that the reason the representatives were asked there is because the Williamson County Sports Authority (SA) is coming to fruition. The SA, organized in the beginning of 2016, will look at ways that the county can maximize its attractiveness and potential to be a destination for sports.
“Is the Williamson County Sports Authority not interested at all in pro sports?” Anderson said. “The answer is yes and no. The experts say that Williamson County is a perfect spot for amateur sports, soccer, volleyball, pickelball, you name it. Girls sports, as well as, boys. Where do we put [a venue or complex]? We don’t know. What are the avenues that government, either city or county can participate in, those are called public private partnerships. That is what the Sports Authority is going to have to figure out what to do. But they also said let’s not limit it just to amateur sports.”
Whether it will be amateur tournaments or a Titans practice facility down the road, the SA will look at the county’s assets and decide which way is the best way to go, Anderson said.
The panel, which Anderson said was there to talk about the business of sports, was made up of: Steve Underwood, Tennessee Titans president; Sean Henry, Nashville Predators president; and Will Alexander, Nashville Major League Soccer co-founder and Williamson County Convention & Visitors Bureau CEO Ellie Westman Chin.
Underwood spoke first. He talked about how the Davidson County Sports Authority, of which Chin was a member as she is a member of the Williamson County one, brought the Predators and Titans to Nashville. He also talked about the public-private partnership, one method of funding for building a sports complex that a sports authority would look at, that built Nissan Stadium.
“We are unique in that we were created by a public-private partnership,” Underwood said of the Titans. “Being partly funded by tax dollars, we are deeply embedded with the metropolitan government’s sports authority. We also have close ties to Williamson County. Thousands of season ticket holders live here, many of our players coaches and staff live here. Our business is two parts, one is football, the other is business.”
Henry spoke about the business side of having a venue or arena, something that the local Sports Authority could look at recommending.
“We are are one of the busiest arenas in the country, we have concerts, events beyond games,” he said. “Next year we hope to be the busiest, this year we were fifth.”
Anderson said that we can look to what worked with the Nashville Sports Authority and duplicate that in Williamson County.
“To give you some history, go back 20 years ago, when Davidson County set up a sports authority that ultimately resulted in Titans and Predators coming to our community,” he said. “So the Sports Authority in Will Co, we set up a year and a half ago. Within 90 days [it] will be in its full capacity.”
So there are many possibilities.