Council approves funding for convention center

Tuesday, January 19, 2010 at 7:48pm
Music-City-Center-vigil.jpg
Supporters and opponents displayed signs and candles before the Metro Council vote on the proposed Music City Center. Photo by Jude Ferrara

This story has been updated.

The Metro Council has approved financing for a $585 million convention center by a vote of 29-9, scoring Mayor Karl Dean the biggest political victory of his first term in office.

After a few council skeptics made their final case, Metro’s legislative body decided to go forward and bankroll Music City Center, a project Dean first championed during his 2007 mayoral campaign as vital to staying competitive in the convention and tourism business and as a catalyst for economic growth.

Those voting against the proposal included: Michael Craddock, Eric Crafton, Robert Duvall, Emily Evans, Randy Foster, Jim Gotto, Jason Holleman, Jamie Hollin and Mike Jameson. Carter Todd abstained and James Bruce Stanley did not vote.

Approval of the financing plan came after the council shot down a motion to defer the resolution from Crafton. Many on the 40-member council spoke before the final vote.

Under the finance plan that the council approved, a combination of taxes and fees that target tourists would over time pay off bonds used to fund the project. Non-tax revenue from Metro’s general fund would back up the bonds. There is also a $40 million reserve fund set aside to cover shortages. Only after that is expired would general fund dollars be used.

The council signed off on the convention center’s financing hours after Nashville’s Priorities — a citizen-led group working in opposition to Music City Center — delivered some 9,000 signed petitions advocating a public referendum to decide the issue.

"I'm disappointed," Kevin Sharp, head of Nashville Priorities, told The City Paper after the meeting. "I'm disappointed that the council knew what the people wanted on this thing and then ignored it." 

Although he could not provide an exact figure, Sharp said Nashville Priorities raised less than $100,000 to market its efforts and lobby council members. On the other side, the Music City Center Coalition released its list of donors today. In total, that group reported having raised $533,092. 

With financing approved, Dean and Tennessee state officials hope to turn the existing Nashville Convention Center into a 12-story Medical Trade Center where people and companies can purchase medical supplies. The center, with an estimated cost of $250 million, is already gaining interest from potential clients.

 

15 Comments on this post:

By: TITAN1 on 1/19/10 at 9:47

Let the whining begin!

By: TITAN1 on 1/19/10 at 10:07

I'm sorry, I mean let the whining continue!

By: airvols on 1/19/10 at 10:28

A win for the future of Nashville! Cigars?

By: wolfy on 1/19/10 at 10:30

Awesome! I think i'll go buy something I can't afford too! Thats the way it works isn't it? Well....isn't it?

By: idgaf on 1/20/10 at 12:25

"With financing approved, Dean and Tennessee state officials hope to turn the existing Nashville Convention Center into a 12-story Medical Trade Center where people and companies can purchase medical supplies. The center, with an estimated cost of $250 million"

Well over a BILLION now and they didn't even start on the hotel.

Hope that sharp puts his law degree where it wil do some good and file suit if they try to use general onligation bonds without a vote.

This is the first time I saw anything in print about going 12 stories on the current CC, anyone see it anywhere? 250 mil we will be lucky to get it done for 400.

By: Walter Sobchak on 1/20/10 at 8:47

idgaf- The Medical Trade Center is a private ptoject.

By: producer2 on 1/20/10 at 9:15

Nashville Priorities has petitions signed by 8700 people. IF they are all accurate that would be less than 3% of the registered voters in Davidson County. Not hardly a mandate. Even opponents in Council recognized that in many of their community meetings the sentiment was split. This "Will of the People" stuff gets old. Did we not learn our lesson after English Only (which was gonna win by a landslide) got turned away. Scare tactics don't play for the general population and the 3-1 margin that carried this vote in Council is a clear indicator that none of those folks are too worried about the veiled threats of being voted out of office. Thank you Council and thank you to the supporters who could see through the BS and make an informed decision on your own.

By: JohnGalt on 1/20/10 at 9:33

"...Dean and Tennessee state officials hope to turn the existing Nashville Convention Center into a 12-story Medical Trade Center..."

Hope? Hope?

Dean and company sold this as a done deal to get the votes for the MCC. You don't think they could have been a bit over zealous, do you? In other words, did they flat lie?

By: producer2 on 1/20/10 at 10:33

JohnGalt,

There were conditions under which the private investors of the project have always stated need to be met before they can commit their $250 million in private funds. Not many but some, like making sure they have 60% of the space leased, etc. I can tell you they have engineers and architects in and out of the building to ensure that when they can move forward they will be ready to do so. No one in Metro lied about anything.

By: MusicCity615 on 1/20/10 at 11:15

THANK YOU metro council!!

By: Blanketnazi2 on 1/20/10 at 11:59

the MTC would be a good thing since we are the medical hub of the southeast.

By: Dragon on 1/20/10 at 12:47

Good luck, Nashville. I think it is a stupid decision but is now a done deal.

By: forlinjd on 1/20/10 at 1:10

$585 million? $635 million? I'm sure I'm missing something, but does anyone know how much this thing will actually cost? Does one estimate not include everything?

Can someone direct me to a single person (with influence) talking about the design of the Center and its impact on the public realm? Plenty of people are discussing the financial impact, but few, if any, are considering the intrinsic influences to the neighborhood. Are we counting on MCC to elevate the quality of life for Nashvillians simply by putting a few dollars in a few pockets? Shouldn't we be talking about quality of life factors that don't include dollars & cents?

By: JohnGalt on 1/20/10 at 1:41

"Good luck, Nashville. I think it is a stupid decision but is now a done deal."

Thanks. We will need it.

"...does anyone know how much this thing will actually cost?"

Nope. Not a clue.

By: NewYorker1 on 1/20/10 at 3:42

I don't think any of you will be missing any meals because they build this convention center so shut up and get over it. Although, I'm sure some of you could benefit from missing a few meals. LOL...