$300,000 loan to CVB draws more questions from council

Tuesday, October 19, 2010 at 12:30am

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.


6 Comments on this post:

By: JeffF on 10/19/10 at 8:49

The meetings/convention industry...doing a little more each day to prove it cannot pay its own way. What did we expect after taxpayers have been forced to pay the entire bill plus operating expenses for its last two downtown centers. If there were money to be had in "investing" in meeting/conventions Metro would be flush with cash and not have to raise taxes on the hotels, motels, rental cars, etc of non-convention center users.

How far behind Williamson County are we in government, education, and employment quality again? How was spending yet more money on conventions going to fix that gap?

By: producer2 on 10/19/10 at 9:59

Your so bitter. Why don't you just come downtown and take in the glory of the new MCC?

By: JeffF on 10/19/10 at 2:48

Kind of a muddy situation right now. Sort of like the finances.

Swoosh, there went the modern world rushing by Nashville's quaint, late arriving convention center. I assume all interoffice communications in the place will be via vacuum tubes and carrier pigeons.

By: budlight on 10/19/10 at 2:58

PRoducer, the convention business lost millions during the floods and will take a long atime to catch up.

Where's the glory in that debacle?

Guess Dean couldn't outwit God and MOther nature.

By: producer2 on 10/19/10 at 3:31

You guys and your prophesying. I find it fun tinkering with you, it is like an app on my iphone. Dial it up when you are bored and watch it squirm....

Jefff, did you figure out the difference between udder and utter yet?

By: govskeptic on 10/19/10 at 5:50

Butch and producer2 I'm sure will handle the PR on this
situtation with ease. Not a bunch that requires much
persuasion anyway. Heck, with his salary Butch should
have made the loan personally!