Wednesday, May 27, 2009

Upcoming Debate on the proposed convention center: Sunday, May 31st, 2 - 4 pm

Have you heard much substantive debate about the proposed new convention center? I really can't say that I have. Well, now's your chance to hear some very different perspectives about the economic value and impact of building and operating a new convention center in Nashville. I am pretty sure, you will learn something!

On Sunday, May 31st, from 2-4 pm you are invited to a panel discussion regarding the proposed convention center. The event is free and open to the public.

As the Metro Council considers approval of a convention center, debate is taking shape over several issues:

How will we pay for a new convention center?

Is there any risk to taxpayers?

How have other convention centers performed across the country?

Panel speakers will be Butch Spyridon, president of the Nashville Convention & Visitors Bureau, and Dr. Heywood Sanders, urban development expert at the University of Texas at San Antonio.

Mr. Spyridon is an effective advocate for a new convention center. He has led Nashville’s $4 billion hospitality industry since 1991 as well as a branding initiative to broaden the image of Nashville as Music City. It is anticipated that he will maintain that Nashville needs a new center; that it will be financed by visitor taxes; and that there will be little to no risk to local taxpayers.

Prof. Sanders has been an outspoken critic of convention centers. He has studied the issue of building projects as civic investments in more than 30 cities over the past 15 years. It is expected that he will maintain that these facilities have performed poorly in most cities, eventually costing local taxpayers, yet are nevertheless promoted by an industry of self-interested developers.

The purpose of the event is to give the community an opportunity to hear divergent viewpoints on the proposed convention center and to foster a dialogue on the merits of the project.

This event is sponsored by Vice Mayor Diane Neighbors and Metro Council At-Large members Megan Barry, Tim Garrett, Jerry Maynard, Ronnie Steine, and Charlie Tygard.

The event will take place from 2-4pm, Sunday, May 31 at Steve and Judy Turner Recital Hall at the Blair School of Music at Vanderbilt University, 2400 Blakemore Avenue.

Complimentary Parking is available in the South Garage, which is located at the intersection of 24th Avenue South and Children’s Way. Please enter the garage at the Children’s Way entrance and park on the fourth level or higher. A map is available at:

The panel is also sponsored by several district members of Metro Council, including Lonnell Matthews, Jr., Walter Hunt, Michael Craddock, Mike Jameson, Erik Cole, Karen Bennett, Anna Page, Sandra Moore, Kristine LaLonde, Erica Gilmore, Emily Evans and Duane Dominy. Organizations sponsoring the event include Vanderbilt University, Metro Channel 3, Nashville Neighborhood Alliance, the Neighborhoods Resource Center, Democratic Women of Davidson County, Davidson County Young Democrats, Nashville Women’s Political Caucus, The Tennessean, the Nashville City Paper, the Nashville Scene, and Liberadio(!) with Mary Mancini & Freddie O'Connell.