UPDATE: June 30, 2020: A Davidson County, Tennessee, judge has ruled that Nashville’s Metro Sports Authority must reapprove the construction contract for the city’s Major League Soccer stadium.
Chancellor Ellen Lyle said that the authority’s contract with the construction management joint venture of Mortenson and Messer Construction Co. is void because a special meeting in 2018 to approve the contract was not properly noticed to the public.
The decision means that board members for the sports authority must redo the meeting. The contract does not need to be rebid, but the authority must pay court costs relating to the suit, according to The Tennessean.
Preconstruction at the fairgrounds has been completed, and there is a new stadium agreement between Nashville Mayor John Cooper and the team, Nashville SC. Construction is slated to begin in July.
- Court battles and allegations of unfair bidding practices could significantly delay construction of the $275 million Nashville FC soccer stadium at the Tennessee State Fairgrounds or possibly even put the entire project in jeopardy.
- Earlier this year, a chancery court judge ruled that Save Our Fairgrounds did not have standing to file a lawsuit that would stop the project, but that decision was overturned on appeal and the group is now back in court attempting to make the case that the Metropolitan Government of Nashville (Metro) and Davidson County violated procurement laws and state sunshine laws in the awarding of contracts for the stadium's design (Populous), construction management (the joint venture of M.A. Mortenson and Messer Construction Co.) and infrastructure design (Kimley-Horn and Associates).
- At the heart of the lawsuit is a claim of financial conflicts, including that the Metro's procurement department appointed employees of Nashville Soccer Holdings (NSH), the investors that own the new franchise, to three committees that evaluated proposals for construction and design and scored each. The lawsuit claims that two advisers to these evaluation committees were also employees of NSH. The lawsuit also claims associations between major investors, contractors and public officials.
Included among Save our Fairgrounds' demands are that the court declares:
- The Metro Sports Authority did not follow applicable laws in approving the contract recommendations;
- the Metro did not follow applicable laws in appointing members of the evaluation committees; and
- the evaluation committees did not follow applicable laws in awarding the construction and design contracts.
The group also wants the court to review a demolition contract issued to Terracon for the razing of buildings at the fairgrounds. A collection of older buildings still remain, and the Nashville Flea Market and other businesses have relocated to the new $37 million Expo Center built on another part of the fairgrounds.
Ron Gobbell, fairgrounds improvements project manager, according to The Tennessee Tribune, has reported to the fair board that the design of the stadium is 35% complete and that the design of the infrastructure is 30% complete. However, until the lawsuit is resolved, according to News 4, the $225 million of revenue bonds that will pay for the project cannot be issued. Construction was slated to begin in June.
The complaint also mentions allegations against Mortenson in relation to the $233 million Colorado Convention Center project in Denver. A Trammell Crow employee allegedly shared information about the bidding process with someone from Mortenson, which was bidding on the job. Mortenson has denied wrongdoing on the part of its employees, but both Trammell Crow, which was serving as program manager, and Mortenson were excluded from working on the project.