Councilman calls special meeting to discuss fairgrounds finances

Friday, October 8, 2010 at 2:07pm

Metro Councilman Duane Dominy, the sponsor of a bill that would preserve the Metro-owned fairgrounds, has organized a special council meeting to “discuss the recent operating history of the state fair.”

Dominy, who represents parts of Antioch and is a Republican candidate for the District 59 state House seat, asked for the meeting earlier this week in a letter sent to Councilwoman Vivian Wilhoite, who chairs the council’s Codes, Fair and Farmers Market committee. Wilhoite said she was already planning such a meeting when Dominy made his request. 

The meeting is scheduled Nov. 9, and will include appearances from Tennessee State Fair Executive Director Buck Dozier and fair board chair James Weaver.

In his letter, Dominy claims to have reviewed the last 12 years of operating history of the state fair and suggests that the financial record of the last three years — which coincides with Mayor Karl Dean’s tenure — has been disproportionately poor compared to the previous nine years.

“The state fair has sustained losses ... during the last three fiscal years totaling $2.5 million,” Dominy wrote. “These extraordinary losses are over three times the amount of shortfall for the previous nine years.

“The modest losses between 1999 and 2007 are explained, in part, by certain capital expenses paid from the operating income such as ADA compliance retro-fit and an interior sprinkler system,” Dominy continued. “There is no similar capital costs associated with the losses for [the last three fiscal years].”

Asked for his response to Dominy’s claims, Weaver pointed out that the fair had years of declining attendance prior to 2007 and reminded Dominy that the fair is an “enterprise fund” that receives no tax-dollar support from Metro. Weaver also cited the string of bad weather that plagued recent state fairs, including the heavy rain that hurt attendance in 2009.

“Almost four years ago the fair board began work on an analysis of the future of the fairgrounds,” Weaver wrote in an email. “We went into this process after years of declining attendance at the fair, ever increasing competition from the Wilson and Williamson County fairs, and mounting losses from our operations.

“Our losses were due to numerous factors — most of which were not ours to control,” Weaver said. “While our staff worked very hard to make an old and antiquated facility cash flow, Buck [Dozier] can’t, despite all his ecclesiastical connections, control the weather.”

Weaver said he and Dozier are “glad” to bring their data before the council next month.

“I know some are questioning Councilman Dominy’s sudden interest in our long-standing and documented problems based on the proximity to Election Day. I am not,” Weaver said. “I welcome the opportunity to talk about this topic with the council.”

In related news, Dominy has apologized to Councilwoman Sandra Moore for filing his fairgrounds bill without giving her proper notice. Moore represents the neighborhood that surrounds the 117-acre fairgrounds.

“I should have asked you to co-sponsor the bill with me prior to introducing the legislation,” Dominy wrote in a letter addressed to Moore. “I didn’t do so because the bill, to me at least, dealt with the duties and responsibilities of the [fair] board and I believe this is a countywide issue.”

The bill, deferred by the council on Tuesday at the request of Moore, will be picked back up on first reading in two weeks.

20 Comments on this post:

By: 117_acres on 10/8/10 at 2:07

Poor Nit Wit Duane Dominy can't get any funding for his State Representative Campaign so he has to send out press release after press release before early voting starts next week regarding a property 10 miles away from his Council District. Hey Dominy how many constituents from your council district are currently employed full time at the fairgrounds property with full time pay, insurance, and other benefits?

By: TITAN1 on 10/8/10 at 3:14

I think 117_acres is getting nervous.

By: 117_acres on 10/8/10 at 3:40

Titian1 nervous about what? FYI if Dominy wins this House Race his district will still not include the fairgrounds property. Do you think soon to be Governor Haslam (A billionaire) is going to want to keep the fairgrounds property? The powers at be know this property is crucial to Nashville and Middle Tennessee in trying to attract jobs and businesses to the area. Dominy, has just used the uneducated and poor folks who are emotionally attached to the property in order to try to win this state house race. His behavior is sickening.

By: TITAN1 on 10/8/10 at 4:46

You know, it really is sad that you think racing is associated with the poor and uneducated. You know that is not correct and just want to continue with your stereotyping or you live in a cave.

By: TITAN1 on 10/8/10 at 4:47

Oh, and I bet you wouldn't be caught dead at the flea market. Sad, really sad.

By: Doveplayer on 10/8/10 at 5:06

So, 117_ -, why are your panties in a wad over the fairgrounds? What is your stake in the Fair, the flea market or the track? Do you live near it? Do you stand to profit from the selling off or from the building of a park? So far you are clueless and acting a lot like Dean himself. Do your homework, then come talk with us.

By: govskeptic on 10/9/10 at 5:49

This park project that keeps being discussed by the Mayor over
at the fairgrounds sounds like a ruse to me. Use small portion and
sell/lease the much larger part is more likely their plans. Agreed
117_ sounds as if he/she has dog of profit in this project as to
many other supporters. Mayor Dean came into office with a
unannounced plan to get rid of Fairgrounds and has made sure the
expenditures and neglect over there helped bare it out over the
last 3 yrs.

By: lisaleeds2008 on 10/9/10 at 8:08

117 aka Fred Agee

We are so sorry that we will kill your house flipping plans. What is in this for you??

By: 117_acres on 10/9/10 at 9:31

I will still yall at Racin on the River Sunday. Please be sure to shower before you come. Thanks

By: TITAN1 on 10/9/10 at 12:51

Here we go with the stereotyping again. He reminds me of a little kid who whines when he doesn't get his way. He also posts very similar to "No more race track". Go figure.

By: MAmom on 10/9/10 at 8:35

Like govskeptic said above:
"This park project that keeps being discussed by the Mayor over at the fairgrounds sounds like a ruse to me. Use small portion and sell/lease the much larger part is more likely their plans."

A "PLAN B" may working now:
1) move the fairground functions somewhere else,
2) build a park,
3) the park will be underutilized,
4) and then the land can be sold without resistance.

Since it was a gift to the people and has become the poor (and middle class) man's convention center - it really should be retained. Under this or a future mayor the properties could be renovated & made a into an outstanding public place - a forum/showplace other cities would envy.

The property is big enough to house a park & playground, State Fair, Flea Market & Expo events, race track (with as much sound-proofing as possible), an amphitheatre/stage... because these things are not mutually exclusive. The public would be happy & monies would routinely flow into the city's coffers. And at some future time - if there is ever a really big emergency in Nashville (e.g.: tornado, earthquake, etc.) - it would be nice for the city to have a big block of centrally-located land to help displaced people.

Renovating and improving the Fairgrounds would employ architects, contractors, and many others. If done well - homeowners around the Fairgrounds would see their property values soar - good for them and Realtors.

Conversely, if the fairgrounds are sold and becomes commercial property ... it will be an incalculable loss for future Nashvillians.

Silence will be interpreted as agreement or acquiescence. Communicate with your representative - tell them you do not want the property sold - that you want to keep the Fairgrounds open.

And if possible, attend the next Council meeting and let them know how you feel about dismantling of the Fairgrounds.


By: HokeyPokey on 10/11/10 at 6:41

A nit-wit Republican and a Church-0-Christ preacher walk into Metro Council.

To argue that the gummint should continue underwriting hillbilly sports and the alleged "state fair."


By: Hotshoe17 on 10/11/10 at 7:00

Stan H.
Remember that this is the "State Fair", not just an inconvienence for the people who moved next to it. People from a hundred to a hundred and fifty mile radius come and enjoy the Fairgrounds.
Karl Dean needs to let it go and let all us "Poor Folks" have a good place to go.
Your right, how much do I know? I have only lived here 56 years. When did you move here?

By: budlight on 10/11/10 at 7:37

Doveplayer on 10/8/10 at 6:06
So, 117_ -, why are your panties in a wad over the fairgrounds? What is your stake in the Fair, the flea market or the track? Do you live near it? Do you stand to profit from the selling off or from the building of a park? So far you are clueless and acting a lot like Dean himself. Do your homework, then come talk with us.

I don't live near it doveplayer, but since I'm a bonafide TAX PAYER, I have vested interest. And do not want it torn down so Dean's name can go on a plaque near some new endeavor.

By: nash615 on 10/11/10 at 8:16

It's pretty obvious 117_acres is a paid astroturfer.

By: BigPapa on 10/11/10 at 9:49

I expect the plan for the fairgrounds is that once every thing is torn down they will over it to some company as a corporate campus i.e. the old hospital property that now houses Dell.

By: pswindle on 10/11/10 at 10:32

We need someone to fight for the fairgrounds. Dean wants the money from the sale to go toward the convention center. There is no reason to take the fair away, and I love the flea market.

By: airvols on 10/11/10 at 3:18

OK, here is the plan an new Mega Mall is going in there. All the major stores and a big coporate center will be tied to the plan. There will upscale items everywhere and all the trees are going to be candy so the kids can have a great time. We may even have a miget race track there to circle the parking lot so the race fans can feel more at home while they shop at the NASCAR store. Yup, it going to be a site, and everyone is going to be happy. We may even have a bandshell so Craddock and Crafton can make a grand speech! The flea market is going to have booth space in the mall so we have cool air for our guest. They are going to have the gun show and the State Fair at the same time so we can have enough guns for the gangs to use on site, and Metro will put a new police precinct there to contol the crime. Happy?

By: harley96 on 10/13/10 at 11:06

Mr. Dominy is my councilman. I want to thank him for standing up and filing this bill.

By: yucchhii on 10/13/10 at 12:15

It's all quite simple! The politicians hear the DEAD PRESIDENTS SCREAMING!!! THAT'S ALL THEY AE INETERESTED IN!!! If we lose the fairgrounds, condos and other housing for people with money goes up and then so does PROPERTY TAX!!! HELLO? ANY ONE HOME UP THERE??? (Knocking on the side of YOUR head)