The Metro Council could have the final say on whether the Nashville Convention & Visitors Bureau receives a $300,000 loan to cover funds the agency spent to keep conventioneers in Nashville following May’s historic flood.
Flooding at the Gaylord Opryland Resort & Convention Center forced the CVB to relocate two groups –– Moose International and Future Business Leaders of America –– to other venues in the city, which required the bureau to dip into its own funds.
“We didn’t do anything without communicating with the mayor’s office,” said Butch Spyridon, president of the CVB. “The mayor and I talked, and it was a mutually agreed scenario of ‘Do whatever it takes’ ... to keep this business in town and get Nashville back on its feet.”
Spyridon said the agency spent $1.15 million in the aftermath of the flood, a portion that came from the CVB’s reserves, with the majority of dollars going toward transportation. Efforts, he said, kept more than 80,000 hotel room nights in Nashville.
Spyridon said the CVB would be able to generate funding from the private sector to pay off some of the expenditures, but has asked for a $300,000 loan to be paid back over three years. The CVB would begin to pay back the loan in the fall of 2011.
The nine-member Convention Center Authority approved the loan earlier this month, but at the council’s Convention, Tourism and Public Entertainment Facilities committee meeting Monday night, some council members –– led by Councilwoman Emily Evans –– questioned the precedent it could set.
“The loan part of it is the part that is worrying me,” Evans said. “We don’t always have control over our boards and commissions,” adding that they’re not supposed to be in the “lending business.”
Councilman Rip Ryman, who chairs the committee, said he would speak with council attorney Jon Cooper to discuss the council’s next move
One possibility could be to ask the authority to effectively rescind its prior vote to approve of the loan. The loan would then go before the council in the form a resolution to give the CVB a supplemental appropriation of $300,000.