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Lebanon council backs arena legislation
Mar 21, 2005 12:00 am
A proposed amendment to state law described as "critical" in bringing a 5,500-seat arena and Central Hockey League (CHL) franchise to Lebanon received the formal endorsement of city leaders Friday.
Overwhelmingly supported by city councilors, the proposed legislation must now receive a nod of approval from two-thirds of the Wilson County Commission before State Sen. Mae Beavers, State Reps. Stratton Bone and Susan Lynn will carry it through state government.
Under state law, sales tax revenue generated through ticket and concession sales at professional sporting events is earmarked for the team's home city. The proposed legislation would alter state law to apply to cities with CHL clubs, Lebanon Mayor Don Fox said.
A similar amendment was approved roughly five years ago to secure tax dollars generated by sales at the Nashville Superspeedway, Fox noted.
"There's no obligation whatsoever to any city or county to spend any money or sign any kind of agreement," Fox said Friday. " … It doesn't tie anybody to anything really. It just makes this possible. What we're doing right now, really, in the scheme of everything, is moot, except it's what our senator says she wants."
The mayor also noted the legislation is not specific to any city or county and would allow other municipalities across the state to build events centers around minor league hockey franchises.
Beavers was the first state lawmaker to request approval from both local legislative bodies before moving forward with the amendment request, noting her request "didn't seem unreasonable" and Fox needed to secure the support of the Lebanon City Council and Wilson County Commission.
Ward 2 Councilor Annette Stafford, who also represents the District 20 on the Wilson County Commission, said she intends to present the legislation to the full Commission at Monday's regularly scheduled meeting.
Fox said county commissioners' support of the legislation is crucial in furthering negotiations with Phoenix-based Global Entertainment Corporation (GEC) and a number of other corporations who may play a role in the arena's development.
The mayor has repeatedly stated Lebanon is in direct competition with a number of midstate municipalities in securing the GEC project, including Hendersonville, Jackson and Murfreesboro.
"If the county doesn't do it," he said, "that events center … won't be done."
Staff Writer Brian Harville can be reached at 444-3952 ext. 16 or by e-mail at email@example.com.