Fairgrounds Redux: 2 years after bruising political fight, events are aligning for another round

Monday, May 13, 2013 at 12:47am

More than two years after Mayor Karl Dean called off the bulldozers in the face of historic public pressure, things are anything but settled at the Tennessee State Fairgrounds.

Due in large part to the truce that ended a citywide fight over its fate — which delayed the decision and put it in the hands of the Metro Council — and exacerbated by persistent financial struggles, a contentious situation has remained decidedly unresolved. And that has made it nearly impossible for some wounds to heal.

That much was evident in the backroom of a Shoney’s in South Nashville one Monday night last month, where several flea market vendors, racetrack supporters, a lobbyist and a Metro councilman had convened to discuss the property’s plight. The group — maybe seven that night, including Dick Dickerson, the president of the Fairgrounds Vendors Association, and Councilman Duane Dominy — represents the leadership of Save Our Fairgrounds. As indicated by their name, they still believe the fairgrounds needs saving. 

Over the course of an hour, as the group recalled the last fight over the facility, and described the one they feel is ongoing, it became obvious that a deep distrust of Dean and his administration has cropped up in the wake of the fairgrounds fight. After the facility survived a frontal assault, some in the group fear the fairgrounds has been sentenced to a protracted death by indifference, at the hands of an administration with neither the political capital to finish it off, nor the political will to fully revive it. 

In other words, there are some who suspect that Dean and fairgrounds officials are simply letting the fairgrounds die on the vine, if not actively working to kill it.

That sentiment was registered in various tones at the Save Our Fairgrounds gathering. As one might expect from a politician, Dominy’s assessment of the fairgrounds’ predicament was somewhat measured. 

“It’s been a troublesome, oftentimes passionate debate, about a piece of Nashville’s history. It’s a part that means a lot, to a lot of people,” he said.

When he asserted that the most significant revenue drains have taken place under the Dean administration, he hedged the remark:

“I’m not suggesting anything in that,” he said. “I’m just making a simple statement of fact.”

Whatever Dominy wasn’t suggesting was stated plainly by others. 

“We’ve had two straight fair board chairmen that were right in the mayor’s pocket,” said Dickerson, who represents 800 flea market vendors, and also runs dog shows at the fairgrounds. “They were taking the low bid on everything, so it wouldn’t make money. They were trying to set up failure.”

Dean’s office declined to make the Mayor available for comment but issued the following statement through a spokesperson:

“The Metro Council requested that a study be undertaken to determine the best use of the property. The master plan was completed earlier this year and presented to the Council, and it’s now up to the Council to decide how they wish to proceed. Mayor Dean’s concern is not with the nature of the current uses of the property but with the impact on the Metro budget of supporting those uses now that the Fairground’s reserve fund has been almost completely exhausted.”

Dean does not currently plan on giving a single dollar to the fairgrounds. Along with the Nashville Farmers’ Market and the Municipal Auditorium, the facility would be asked to fully cover its costs with its revenues. That would be a problem, since fairgrounds officials project they will have a deficit of more than $700,000 in the 2013-14 fiscal year. 

During the presentation of this year’s proposed budget to the Council, Metro Finance Director Rich Riebeling said the move would keep the pressure on the three departments to get creative about increasing revenues and cutting costs where possible. He and Dean both left the door open for additional funds down the line, and said they understood that all three facilities would likely need them. 

But while the administration has said the Farmers’ Market and Municipal Auditorium still have “ample” funds remaining in their respective reserves, the fairgrounds’ reserve fund — which it has been using for years to mitigate deficits — is all but depleted. If fairgrounds officials come to the council later this year seeking additional funds, they will be requesting the first taxpayer subsidy ever granted to the facility. 

When asked directly by a council member about the possibility of closing any of the facilities, Riebeling said, “I don’t think we’ve come to that bridge at this point.”

 

 

Of course, the Dean administration has already come to that bridge. Faced with a disapproving public, they hit the brakes. But there is a strong feeling among some of the most ardent fairgrounds supporters that the mayor’s team never actually pulled a U-turn. 

It all started in late 2009, when Dean announced that his administration would be moving ahead with plans to redevelop the fairgrounds. The tension was ratcheted up as the details, and their implications, were revealed: The state fair would have to find a new home, in Davidson County if possible, but more likely somewhere else, for the first time in more than 100 years. The expo center, which hosts the monthly flea market and other events, would be moved to the Hickory Hollow Mall in Antioch. And the Fairgrounds Speedway, itself more than a century old and rich with auto-racing history, would be demolished.

The plan wasn’t borne out of pure spite, though. With the cost of operating an aging facility increasing, and various revenue streams receding, the financial picture at the fairgrounds was bleak. By embracing redevelopment, the Dean administration argued, the city would be putting down an entity that, while beloved, would soon be unable to sustain itself. That would make way, they said, for a corporate office park where 1 million square feet of office space would house 6,500 jobs and generate hundreds of millions of dollars in economic impact.

But the folks who care about the fairgrounds care about it deeply. So with their interests for once acutely aligned, a coalition of flea market vendors and shoppers, racing enthusiasts and state fair lovers emerged in opposition to the mayor, his plan, and anyone else who supported it. The result was a frequently bitter public debate complete with allegations of “astroturf” activism, and colors assigned to each side and worn by citizens as a declaration of allegiance. 

The fairgrounds became a battleground in an ongoing philosophical fight about whether Nashville’s past, its ascendant present, and its future can all fit inside the I-440 loop — a theme crystallized by The New York Times’ Campbell Robertson, who described what he found in Nashville as “a custody battle over a neighborhood that could just as well have been … over the city itself.”

That meant it was personal. Calling for the redevelopment of the fairgrounds was different than proposing that the city raze an abandoned building to allow for infill development. To the people who most associate themselves with the property, it felt like an eviction. When Dean said the city should move on from the fairgrounds, it felt to them like he was saying the city should move on from them, too. 

Dean, who was raised in Massachusetts, has been in Nashville since the late 1970s, when he attended Vanderbilt University Law School — an institution that has undoubtedly provided a local anchor for many in the city’s political circles. But his out-of-town roots added to the resentment of some who felt targeted by his vision for the fairgrounds. 

“I’ve been to 71 state fairs in Nashville, Tenn., out of 72 years of my life,” Dickerson said. “It’s a tradition that people care about. My dad and mother went. My aunts and uncles. Grandparents, great-grandparents. The mayor will never understand that. He doesn’t have the roots here. He doesn’t have the feeling about it. He doesn’t remember all the things growing up — going out there, the excitement.”  

The battle ultimately ended in defeat for the mayor, and what seemed at the time like victory for the fairgrounds. 

In January 2011, after thousands of citizens crowded the Metro Courthouse for what was likely the largest public hearing in Nashville history, the Metro Council stripped a bill of a provision enacting the demolition of the racetrack, and passed what remained, keeping the expo center at its current location, calling for the property to host the state fair through 2012, and requesting the creation of a master plan for the future of the grounds. 

Later that year, voters overwhelmingly approved a referendum inserting language into the Metro Charter dictating that current uses of the fairgrounds — hosting a state fair, expo center, flea market and auto racing — would continue, and requiring 27 votes from the 40-member council before those uses could be abandoned.

But the fight over the fairgrounds has had lingering political and financial effects. Fairgrounds officials said the facility lost around a quarter-million dollars in business in reaction to Dean’s initial decision to close the facility. 

The same election in which 71 percent of voters cast their ballots to preserve the fairgrounds also put Dean and nearly all of the council back in office, all but ensuring that the political tension, and questions about the future of the property, would remain.

 

 

The fairgrounds is more like a solar system than a planet. The entities contained within its winding chain-link border — the racetrack, the flea market, the state fair and the gun shows, dog shows and other events hosted their throughout the year — face a variety of challenges, and to a large extent, have their own politics. 

But just as the threat of closure aligned their interests several years ago, they are all facing two common problems now: uncertainty and old age. 

Buck Dozier, executive director of the Metropolitan Board of Fair Commissioners, said that of the three facilities that were denied subsidies in the mayor’s proposed budget, the fairgrounds is the only one stuck under a cloud of uncertainty.

“We’re the only one that has this kind of black cloud over us,” he said. “The impending chance that we could be closed. That makes it difficult for us out here, because of the uncertainty, people are a little apprehensive about booking with us sometimes. Especially for the long-term.”

Dozier summed up the facility’s other primary challenge during his presentation at the mayor’s budget hearings in March: “The greatest thing about the fairgrounds is it’s 107 years old,” he said, “the worst thing about it is it’s 107 years old.” On that front as well, Dozier drew a distinction between the fairgrounds and the other entities seeking subsidies from the Metro government.

“The only other thing that makes it difficult for us here, in revenues, is the condition of the property, the condition of the buildings, and so forth,” he said. “And of course, we have not had any capital money spent on our place here. The Farmers’ Market and Municipal over the years have had capital spent on them, and I think it’s time that we look, if we’re going to remain here, that we’re going to have to spend some money here to get it back up to speed. We’re doing the best we can without that kind of money or improvements, or ability to improve the property and the buildings here.”

The effects of an uncertain future played out most recently during lease negotiations for this year’s state fair — that episode of political and legislative wrangling has been a saga of its own in recent years. While fair board chairman Ned Horton and board member Kenny Byrd both favored approving a three-year lease with the Tennessee State Fair Association, other board members were hesitant, in part, because of the uncertain future of the property. 

Some in the Save Our Fairgrounds crowd, including Councilmen Dominy, Duvall and Tony Tenpenny, who frequently attend fair board meetings, were frustrated at times during the negotiations. Instead of working to pry $50,000 more dollars out of the Tennessee State Fair Association — which had been awarded the state fair contract from the state — they said the board should have paid more attention to Universal Fairs, a Memphis operator offering far more money. 

In their defense, board members cited the fair’s long-running history in Davidson County — as well as many unanswered questions about the Memphis operator — and suggested that folks criticizing their approach to the negotiations would be beating down the doors if the board lost the state fair. Furthermore, they said, Universal Fairs was more than welcome to book an event at any other point during the year. But to some, it was another instance of Metro officials sandbagging the fairgrounds. 

“Both the city and the fair board purposely has picked the wrong group to put on the fair for, this will be the fourth time,” Dickerson said that night at Shoney’s. “And it will be the fourth failure. And we’re so sad about it, because we could have had a vendor that would’ve paid four times as much money, has a track record of great success, and instead the politics played in, and we got a guy that is going to put on a fourth-rate county type of fair.”

Dozier shares in the frustration about the damaging effects of the property’s uncertain fate, but rejected any ideas about ulterior motives amongst fairgrounds officials or the administration. 

“There’s a conspiracy theory that’s happening,” he said, “and at one time it was the intent to close it. But I have not seen that in the last few years. I have not seen a willingness on the part of anyone to do that. And that still lingers in some of those people’s minds, and everything that happens that they think is negative, it automatically goes to the conspiracy theory that everything is designed to close it down. I have not seen that, I have not felt that at all.”

 

 

If the council takes up the master plan at all, it will likely be after the budget process. That process will likely include some pushback on the lack of funding for the fairgrounds. 

“To be blunt, the mayor’s proposed budget does not honor the wishes of 71 percent of the voters in this county,” Dominy said of the administration’s presentation to the council. “They made it clear that they want the current uses to remain. Those current uses are in jeopardy, much due to the mayor’s actions over the last three years.”

With the mayor punting to the council, and the council likely still months from even beginning to consider the future of the fairgrounds, the issue rests in the lap of the fair board for now. 

“While we wait on the people with the power to tackle the fairgrounds head on,” said fair board member Kenny Byrd, in an email to The City Paper, “it falls on the fair board — who has neither the power of the purse or the ability to approve Metro legislation — to be the best possible stewards of the property that we can on behalf of the stakeholders and the public. Every member of the fair board is committed to doing everything in our power to do just that.”

Byrd suggested that all sides may be in a state of denial — whether genuine or politically convenient — about what’s really going on at the fairgrounds. Indeed, while in some cases fairgrounds preservationists seem to have taken their political victory as validation that the property can survive on its own, the mayor’s office has seemed content to proceed as if the fairgrounds aren’t there. Byrd said everyone needs to “acknowledge the financial reality of the situation.” 

“Those who vehemently opposed the mayor’s office in the past need to be ready to acknowledge the same current events and uses are not financially self-sustainable absent substantial changes,” he said. “Thus, keeping the general status quo at the fairgrounds will likely require annual government funds for capital improvements and regular budgetary needs, since the fairgrounds have not been financially self-sustaining for at least a decade. That indeed may be what we all decide as a community is appropriate, but it’s a decision we will face. On the flip side, the Metro Council and the mayor’s office need to become active again in promoting open discussion and viable options to affirmatively address the financial situation facing the fairgrounds and the concerns of those who greatly depend on its future.”

But the most recent fair board meeting showed that the issue of what to do with the fairgrounds remains as politically radioactive as it ever was. 

Last week, Byrd presented the board with a completed Request for Information document. The RFI, which had been in the works for months, seeks information from private entities interested in investing in the fairgrounds, either in connection with one of the scenarios outlined in the master plan, or through some other means should the council decline to pursue any of those options. 

As the small but dedicated group of people who attend just about every fair board meeting looked on, Commissioner John Ray Clemmons reiterated a concern he had raised previously about the solicitation of interested investors. Given that one of the options in the master plan, and therefore in the RFI, was the pursuit of some form of private mixed-used redevelopment on the property, Clemmons said he worried the RFI might give the impression that the board was open to alternative uses for the property. 

If that signal were sent, he said, it could “put a bull’s-eye on the back of this board.”

Eventually, the commissioners approved the RFI, but with a disclaimer. So the fair board sought information about the possible future of the fairgrounds without taking a position on said future, something that remains murky. 

 

27 Comments on this post:

By: Luckyforward on 5/13/13 at 5:01

One wonders why Dean is so after the Fairgrounds. Is it his unbridled lust for complete control? Is it his need to win every fight he starts? Does Dean care only "making a power statement?" Or is it something more mundane: money. Dean does not appear, like Purcell and Bredesen, to have a life past being Mayor of Nashville, Heck, his one scene in the tv show "Nashville" died on the cutting room floor, just as his time as mayor will be a "done deal." With no exciting political possibilities ahead, and his usefulness to the Chamber of Commerce crowd over, Dean will need cold, hard cash to continue to live the lifestyle to which he has become accustomed. So, make all the money you can on the big deals (new convention center), the medium deals (selling the old convention center), and the little deals - selling out the Fairgrounds to the highest bidder.

Then the Carpetbagger will have done his job . . .

By: 4gold on 5/13/13 at 7:20

I am no fan of Dean either but what are these fairground proponents trying to save? A collection of tacky bricko block warehouses? I grew up in Nashville and remember the Old Womens Building, Cascade Pool, Fair Park and the bumper cars, and figure eight races at the track but all that is gone. The fair board should have been fired long before the property became such an eye sore. I don't know what Dean wants to do with the property but there is not much there worth saving.

Go Dores, Preds, Titans! Go Nashville a great place to live!

By: govskeptic on 5/13/13 at 7:41

Dying on the vine and allowing deterioration has been the City's way of gaining
support has been the plan for many years. In spite of the City's voters wanting
to save the property as exposition center. While I hold no special feeling for the
fair or racetrack, I do seriously hope this property remains a worthwhile center
for many different events such as now occurs and more can be added.

By: BigPapa on 5/13/13 at 8:07

I dont understand this "great love" of cement block buildings, asphalt, and a dilapidated race track. Historical preservation is one thing, this is just pure sentimentality.

Dean should just raze the place and let the courts work it out later.

By: pswindle on 5/13/13 at 9:38

Don't let Dean get his hands on the Fairgrounds. With some money spent on the grounds, it could be a grand old fair with many activities that supported itself and brought pleasure to millions.

By: airvols on 5/13/13 at 10:00

I just don't get it, old buildings that are eyesores, an outdated racetrack, when a new one in on 840. A flea market that could be better located and bunch of people that support all this that make money off the city. Bulldoze this thing and move Nashville forward. Get a city council that can grow a pair, and close this dollar sucking city drain.

By: lamons on 5/13/13 at 11:28

GreenHillsBoy;
The mayor's position is simply that this valuable land near interstates, downtown and the ariport could be a major area right in Davidson County for much better use of the land. The buildings there are eysores, the track is outdated and the fair has become secondary to those in Wilson and Williamson Counties. The majority of those that go to the races are from outside Davidson County and as a taxpayer, I am tired of us paying for services and entities that are heavily used by those outside Davidson. It is time to move forward and allow private enterprised to develop this valuable property.

By: Kosh III on 5/13/13 at 11:33

"said the move would keep the pressure on the three departments to get creative about increasing revenues and cutting costs where possible."

Why stop with only these 3 needing to be self-supporting. Expand this capitalist plan to Fire, Police, Zoning, Parks and more.
This is just an excuse to kill the place.

Allocate capital funding to the Fairgrounds instead of more downtown crap. Modernize it.

By: karlwithak on 5/13/13 at 12:17

How is the track outdated ?

It did a million in revenues last year running a very limited schedule.

By: friendsofthetns... on 5/13/13 at 12:53

Open Letter to the Mayor and City Council,

​There are some you that think that Friends of the Tennessee State Fairgrounds is a ghost group. That is simply not true. We are very real. Please understand a group does not always need a spokesperson. Look FOTTSFG is here to make sure that things are done right and to make sure that the people are heard. Please make no mistake we are watching what you are doing and making sure it is done right. So far it is right. Making sure that the all voices of the people are heard. That means low income and all the people. Please make no mistake we want there to be a fair playing field and also the law to be followed as well. Remember the Fairgrounds is the peoples property or the poor mans convention center.

Thanks,
Friends of the Tennessee State. Fairgrounds

By: friendsofthetns... on 5/13/13 at 12:56

Open Letter to the Mayor, City Council and Fair Board of Commissioners,

We Want to address this, Buck Dozier, Director of the Tennessee State Fairgrounds, which has Traditionally Been a self-sustaining entity, the fairgrounds have Spent down its reserves in recent years, asked for a $791,000 Subsidy from the city. That would Include $91,000 to pay the salary and benefits for a new, Full-time Marketing employee.

On That note we remembered a few short years ago when Councilman Crafton Brought up a what the City Government was charging the Fairgrounds for things they have done. Between poor Management and time we are now in the place we are now. We do Not claim to have the fix but we know giving the fairgrounds a bail out is not the answer to the problem. If you read the Charter and Chapter 515 it says that the fair board can Mortgagee the property to help get them out of debt. According to Chapter 515 the fair board can also charge a fair tax1. Because, we know you will not bail out the fairgrounds.

Contact Info:

Friends Of the Tennessee State Fairgrounds

friendsofthetnstatefairgrounds@hotmail.com

Or on Facebook at

http://www.facebook.com/pages/Friends-of-the-Tennessee-State-Fairgrounds/75767466203

Thanks,
Friends of the Tennessee State Fairgrounds

37203

1 Sect 8 – Authorizes the County Court to levy a "Fair Tax" for the benefit of the fair operations. It further states that "Said Board shall have control of the disbursement of all funds collected by taxation, received from the State of Tennessee, or collected from gate receipts, concessions, or leases of the said fair property for educational or amusement purposes, for the operation, maintenance or improvement of the fair property."

By: jimmie on 5/13/13 at 12:57

I read from an employee of the track that the leaseholder made $658,000 in profit last year, after having $300,000 stolen by family and employees of the speedway. So it made someone a lot of money.

By: BigPapa on 5/13/13 at 3:27

Personally I dont care if it made money. You dont put a race track in the middle of down town. It's that simple. The Fairgrounds is a cause of blight in that area, not a help. The time for it to go was years ago..

Raze it and move on.

By: hattrick3 on 5/13/13 at 10:06

BigPapa - You said "The Fairgrounds is a couse of blight in that area"...I drove thru that area recently....I saw two cars on blocks in yards, I saw trash blowing across streets and yards, 5-6 yards that haven't been mowed this year, and I'm pretty sure the lady waiving at me from the sidewalk was a crack whore. But you are worried about a racetrack? How about the local neighbors quit complaining about the track and clean up their own yards and streets first.

By: Shane Smiley on 5/13/13 at 10:42

4 gold, No one is saying the property does not need fixed up and modernized.
The current events held at the Fairgrounds bring in over 1.2 Million visitors annually ( According to Fairgrounds 2009 study)
The Fairgrounds adds nearly $60 Million dollars in annual economic impact to our city.

Govskeptic. Well said

Big Papa. You have the same argument every time. The race track is not dilapidated. It is actually in pretty good shape.

PsWindle. I agree

Airvols, I disagree. The buildings themselves are in pretty good shape. Yes, they are in need of heating/ cooling/ and some plumbing modernization. The Flea Market does great right where it is. In fact, It was again voted the #1 Flea Market in Tennessee. As for your claim of the property being money sucking drain. Please show where the facility has drained Metro funds. I will save you the trouble, It has never taken a dollar of tax payer money in 107 years and has put over 1.3 million dollars into the city coffers thru internal service fees.

Lamons, see above

Kosh III, well said.

Big Papa, Again, did you vote on the Referendum pertaining to the Fairgrounds?
In case you forgot, the Referendum passed by 71% to KEEP the Fairgrounds and all current events in place.
69% of the voters in District 17( the Fairgrounds neighborhood) voted in favor of the referendum
In fact, The referendum got more votes to keep the Fairgrounds than all but 1 seated Council representative.This includes the Vice Mayor and Council at Large
Edith Langster got 2 more votes than the referendum in her district as the referendum passed overwhelmingly in her district.

The people have spoken loudly with their vote to keep the Fairgrounds and all of the current events.
Supporters are not saying to keep the status quo concerning the appearance of the property.
We want to see the place fixed up and modernized.
It is time for Metro to step up and do some capitol improvements to the property and/or, get out of the way and let private management control and run the Fairgrounds events.

I believe it is time for the council to step up and listen to the voters. The decision was clear
Save Our Fairgrounds
Where Nashville Comes Together.

By: 4gold on 5/14/13 at 6:55

Smlley, I seriously doubt the Fairgrounds brought in 60 million dollars in the last decade much less last year. The place has not been the same since the old Womens Building burned down. No character and if you compare it to the Louisville fairgrounds? It is an embarrassment.

Go Dores, Preds, Titans! Go Nashville a great place to live!

By: Shane Smiley on 5/14/13 at 10:34

4gold, You may have serious doubts but, according to the 2009 Fairgrounds Study, an average of 1.2 Million Visitors enjoy the Fairgrounds annually bringing nearly $60 Million in economic impact and $4-6Million in direct tax to Davidson county.
This study was conducted using the same criteria the Chamber of Commerce uses thru-out the county.

The place needs some attention. No one disagrees. Capitol improvements are past due.
The Louisville Fairgrounds would not look like it does now if the people, Universities, Local and State Government had not gotten involved. The people have spoken clearly (%71) thru the 2011 Charter Referendum in favor of keeping the Fairgrounds.
It is now the DUTY of our Administration and City Council to act upon the wishes of the people and get behind modernization of the Fairgrounds as a Fairgrounds.
Do you realize the administration has never acknowledged the Referendum publicly. A measure that past with 71% approval has been ignored by this administration. Why? Because they didn't get the answer they want?
If you are a Fairgrounds fan or not, you should be upset by the lack of any response by our local administration.
The people have spoken.
Save Our Fairgrounds.
Where Nashville comes together.

By: whitetrash on 5/14/13 at 1:36

Link to article about the economic impact of the fairgrounds.
http://nashvillecitypaper.com/content/city-news/questions-about-fairgrounds-economic-impact-linger

By: Shane Smiley on 5/14/13 at 3:28

Thank you, Whitetrash.

By: friendsofthetns... on 5/15/13 at 8:13

Open Letter to the people,

You now see what Dean and his friends are doing to the Fairgrounds from the get go. Dean could not get the Fairgrounds back in on January of 2010. Because of the United Front. Now he is going to starve it to death. So he can say it is broke and we have to close it down.

By: BigPapa on 5/15/13 at 8:26

You cant fight city hall. A race track in the middle of town is idiotic. How the race contributes to blight is this. (God I cant belive I have to spell this out.)

If the track is gone that area can attract people that will revitalize the neighborhood i.e. East Nashville & 12south. Getting rid of the track removes a barrier to that revitalization.

Again, if I were Dean I'd bulldoze the entire place down in an afternoon then let the lawyers argue about the details. At least I'd be rid of the track and those concrete block buildings.

By: Shane Smiley on 5/15/13 at 11:01

Big Papa.
Let me spell it out to you.
The Referendum of 2011 gave voters the opportunity to vote on the Fairgrounds future.
71% voted to keep the Fairgrounds, Race Track included.
This means; the tired argument you continue to post is against the will of the people.
We all know where you stand. You want something else done with the property and you are against racing.
You had your chance at the polls and you lost.
It is time to move forward.
It is time to Save Our Fairgrounds
Where Nashville comes together.

By: Blanketnazi2 on 5/15/13 at 1:52

Well, let me spell out the other side to you.

Less than 20% of the population turned out to vote and the 71% who voted for it probably never vote on anything else and were probably given misinformation.

It is time to move forward. It is time to move that side of the town forward and a racetrack is not the way to do it.

Imagine the potential of what that side of town could be. It's time for the Fairgrounds to go. It's time to NOT save the Fairgrounds.

The Fairgrounds - where certain people (mostly from outside Davidson County) come together.

By: Shane Smiley on 5/15/13 at 2:50

Blanketnazi2
The vote is the vote.
I do not hear anyone using your argument when they speak of the validity of the Mayor or Council Members who were elected the same night.

Your argument is empty and will not hold water.

By: Shane Smiley on 5/15/13 at 6:23

Blanketnazi2,
Your post is filled with "Probably". Let me share some facts.

Davidson County had 345,626 registered voters as of August 2011
The Mayor received 50,391 votes
The Referendum received 43,273 votes
The Referendum passed in 34 of 35 districts.
The Referendum got more votes than all but one City Council Member, Council at Large, or the Vice Mayor.
Edith Langster received 2 more votes than the referendum as the measure passed overwhelmingly in her district.
In other words, the Mayor is the Mayor, the Vice-Mayor is the Vice-Mayor, the Council members are doing their job as elected, and the Referendum has passed.

You say many of these voters may never vote on anything else again. Do you have anything factual to base this claim?
If your claim is true, does their vote count any less than a voter who votes at every opportunity?
You also say they were probably given misinformation. Do you have any evidence to back your false assumption?
Are you aware that the original draft of the referendum said "Yes" or "No"? It was changed to "For" or "Against" Ratification by the Election commission.

I will agree that it is time to move forward.
The people have spoken loudly in favor of keeping the Fairgrounds. Yes, This includes the Race Track.
With a long term lease on the property, capitol improvements can be made to the property.
With a long term lease, a sound absorbing wall could be built around the track serving as the next step in sound mitigation.
The racecars are already much quieter than in the past.
The mufflers have cut the sound by as much as 17db. A 10db reduction cuts the sound in half to the human ear. So, the sound has already been cut in half and nearly in half again. With a sound absorbing wall technology, the impact from noise would be reduced even greater.
A NASCAR Truck Series Race would generate over $20 Million in economic impact for one race weekend.

One last thing, Blanketnazi2. Our city bases a great deal of our economy on tourism. We just invested nearly 3/4 of a Billion dollars on the MCC. Yet, you say the Fairgrounds is supported by "Certain People (Mostly from outside Davidson County)"
These "Certain people" help produce the estimated $60,000,000.00 in economic impact generated by the Fairgrounds.
If they live here or outside of the county or state, they are welcome here.
I also take issue with your term "Certain People". These people have as much right to enjoy the hobbies and interests they enjoy as much as any other citizen or visitor to our city.
You do not hear us speaking down about our citizens or guests who use our Golf Courses, Parks, Greenways, Music Venues, Restaurants, Hotels, or any other part of Nashville.
Who do you think you are to refer to these "Certain People" who enjoy our Fairgrounds in a demeaning way?

It is time for our City Council and Administration to step up and work towards modernization of our Fairgrounds with all entities in tact. The Fair, Expo events, Flea Market, and yes, the Race Track. The voters have spoken.
It is time to Save Our Fairgrounds.
Where Nashville comes together.

By: Shane Smiley on 5/16/13 at 4:34

Call to Action:

A budget hearing for the Fairgrounds will be held Wednesday, May 29th at the Metro Courthouse.
Fairgrounds Executive Director Buck Dozier and staff will give a presentation to the City Council sometime after 6PM.
We are scheduled for 6:30 but, budget hearings are fluid in time allotted. So, the schedule shifts. We need red shirted supporters to begin arriving at 5:30PM

SaveOurFairgrounds.com urges everyone to get out their red shirts and fill the Council Chambers in support of the Fairgrounds.
A Council Chambers filled with red shirts will serve as a reminder to council members the support from Nashville citizens for the historic Fairgrounds.
Councilman at Large Stein made special mention of the large turnout for the Arts Commission Hearing. Proof that your presence is noticed and needed.
If we want the Fairgrounds to continue and prosper, we need some assistance from Metro.
The proposed subsidy from Metro would be the first needed in the storied 107 year history of the Fairgrounds.
The Fairgrounds hosts over 600 events a year.
An estimated 1.2 Million citizens and visitors help provide nearly 60 Million dollars in economic impact annually.
The Fairgrounds has provided a great deal in helping Nashville grow into the city we are today.
NASCAR was Nashville's first professional sport providing not only entertainment to our citizens but, a glimpse into Nashville on a national stage in sports. National media covering these events helped fuel our growing tourism business showing the entire country that Nashville is a great place to Live, Work, and Play.
We will not be able to speak at this hearing. Although, a room full of red shirted Fairgrounds supporters speaks loudly without saying a word.

A public hearing on the 2013-2014 Metro Budget will be held some time in mid June.

It is VERY important to the future of the Fairgrounds to have a massive turn-out for both the budget and public hearings.
SaveOurFairgrounds.com and the Save Our Fairgrounds facebook page will keep you informed concerning the public hearing.

The “NEW” Save Our Fairgrounds T-Shirts will be available soon. The cost will be $10.00. If you can give more, we can use the help.
On the back of these shirts, you will see a growing "Friends of Save Our Fairgrounds" list.
The supporters listed all provided $100.00 or more in goods, services, and cash donations.
Please give them a special Thank You when you see them.
A list of these Friends will can be found at Saveourfairgrounds.com soon.
As soon as the shirts are available, we will let you know.

Save the Date:
Wednesday, May 29
5:30 PM
Metro Courthouse.

We look forward to seeing you there as we continue to
Save Our Fairgrounds.
“Where Nashville comes together”

By: Shane Smiley on 5/16/13 at 4:35

Call to Action:

The PUBLIC HEARING for the 2013-2014 Metro Budget will be held this coming Tuesday, May 21st.
This will be our only chance to speak out in support of the Fairgrounds.
It is imperative that we have a large number of red shirted Fairgrounds supporters on hand

SaveOurFairgrounds.com urges everyone to get out their red shirts and fill the Council Chambers in support of the Fairgrounds.
A Council Chambers filled with red shirts will serve as a reminder to council members the support from Nashville citizens for the historic Fairgrounds.
Councilman at Large Stein made special mention of the large turnout for the Arts Commission Hearing. Proof that your presence is noticed and needed.
If we want the Fairgrounds to continue and prosper, we need some assistance from Metro.
The proposed subsidy from Metro would be the first needed in the storied 107 year history of the Fairgrounds.
The Fairgrounds hosts over 600 events a year.
An estimated 1.2 Million citizens and visitors help provide nearly 60 Million dollars in economic impact annually.
The Fairgrounds has provided a great deal in helping Nashville grow into the city we are today.
NASCAR was Nashville's first professional sport providing not only entertainment to our citizens but, a glimpse into Nashville on a national stage in sports. National media covering these events helped fuel our growing tourism business showing the entire country that Nashville is a great place to Live, Work, and Play.

It is VERY important to the future of the Fairgrounds to have a massive turn-out for both the Public and Budget hearings.
SaveOurFairgrounds.com and the Save Our Fairgrounds facebook page will keep you informed to any changes or additional news concerning the Fairgrounds.

The “NEW” Save Our Fairgrounds T-Shirts will be available at the Public Hearing. The cost will be $10.00. If you can give more, we can use the help.
On the back of these shirts, you will see a growing "Friends of Save Our Fairgrounds" list.
The supporters listed all provided $100.00 or more in goods, services, and cash donations.
Please give them a special Thank You when you see them.
A list of these Friends will can be found at Saveourfairgrounds.com soon.

A budget hearing for the Fairgrounds will be held Wednesday, May 29th at the Metro Courthouse.
Fairgrounds Executive Director Buck Dozier and staff will give a presentation to the City Council sometime after 6PM.
We are scheduled for 6:30 but, budget hearings are fluid in time allotted. So, the schedule shifts. We need red shirted supporters to begin arriving at 5:30PM. We will not have the opportunity to speak at the Budget Hearing but, your presence is needed.

Save the Dates:
Council Budget Public Hearing
Tuesday, May 21st
5:30 PM
Metro Courthouse.

Fairgrounds Budget Hearing
Wednesday, May 29th
5:30 PM
Metro Courthouse
We look forward to seeing you there as we continue to
Save Our Fairgrounds.
“Where Nashville comes together”