Five conventions booked into Music City Center remain 'confidential'

Wednesday, January 11, 2012 at 5:26pm

Five of the 65 convention meetings scheduled for Nashville’s new Music City Center are booked for organizations that remain “confidential” to the public.

Despite the anonymity, Nashville Convention and Visitors Bureau officials say these organizations have signed letters of commitment guaranteeing the groups’ use of Music City Center for future events.

On Monday, the CVB celebrated Music City Center clearing 600,000 total booked hotel-room nights, issuing a press release that said the benchmark “speaks to the continued high demand of Nashville.”

The CVB hopes to have 1,000,000 room nights booked before Music City Center’s opening in February 2013.

A cumulative list of Music City Center’s future conventions shows the city’s new $585 million, taxpayer-funded convention center has attracted 65 conventions and is expected to attract an estimated 498,200 people and produce 601,180 room nights.

The new center’s largest booked convention is the National Rifle Association’s convention set for April 2015, projected to bring 48,000 people and generate more than 15,700 room nights.

Other well-publicized events include the 2014 NCAA Women’s Basketball Final Four and the 2015, 2016 and 2019 SEC Men’s Basketball tournaments, which will actually be held at Bridgestone Arena but were counted in the MCC's totals. Lesser known, and decidedly smaller events, include conventions organized by the National Ground Water Association, Electronic Security Expo and many others.

Then there are the mystery groups.

A CVB spreadsheet of MCC bookings shows four conventions booked for an unnamed organization generically named “Confidential Group” and one convention booked for “Confidential Group 2”

The four events scheduled for “Confidential Group” — booked for the years 2014, 2016, 2019 and 2022 — account for 33,348 of MCC’s total room nights. A 2019 “Confidential Group 2” event accounts for 7,400 room nights.

Andrea Arnold, the CVB’s spokeswoman, said these particularly groups requested they remain confidential, with reasons differing for each group. She said the “confidential groups” have signed letters of commitment for their events.

“They are binding letters of commitment,” Arnold said. “When the center officially opens, they will have official contracts, but there aren’t any official contracts from Metro Legal yet for the center.

“So, we’ve devised a letter of commitment that’s just as binding ... “ she said. “Signing it ensures they’re going to be here. It’s the same kind of binding as a contract, but it’s a letter of commitment with the CVB.”

She said the identities of the organizations are not public record.

40 Comments on this post:

By: govskeptic on 1/12/12 at 6:32

So, Ms. Arnold is acting as and for Metro Legal on determining the
legality of these so-called letters of commitment? The CVB's an
organization that is of extraordinary talent in both math and law
as well as leading the nation in "Tomfoolery" !

By: bfra on 1/12/12 at 6:54

My thoughts, exactly, gov.!

By: Nitzche on 1/12/12 at 8:29

Maybe it is the Jihad alliance?

By: producer2 on 1/12/12 at 8:36

you guys are funny, always looking for the negative even if it does not exist. First it was "no will come", now that they are blowing the numbers out and proving the naysayers wrong your trying to find fault with their LOC's. Really, get a life....

By: bfra on 1/12/12 at 8:54

Why would anyone bood a convention and want it to be a "secret"?

By: bfra on 1/12/12 at 8:55

change that "bood" to "book"!

By: producer2 on 1/12/12 at 9:39

several reasons. maybe the association does not want it released yet to their members and they are saving the announcement for their upcoming convention. Or they could be bidding for other years at a different location and they don't want those cities to know they have committed for certain dates in nashville. The lists are endless and none of them have a conspiracy theory. The groups will be announced in due time, the important part is they are signed to come here and help fill up our new center.

By: MusicCity615 on 1/12/12 at 9:49

Good points Producer2!

By: bfra on 1/12/12 at 9:51

OR it could be they are not booked at all! Conventions are for promoting & secrets don't promote.

By: bfra on 1/12/12 at 9:53

Why don't they report a financial update, after Tower won their well deserved case? OR how much property they still need, that they don't have & how much that is going to cost?

By: JeffF on 1/12/12 at 12:07

Was not aware that they were already arena events toward MCC numbers. Interesting. Next in the playbook is they start counting attendance at boat and auto shows as convention/meeting. As things deteriorate further local wedding receptions and bar mitzfahs are pursued just to keep the warm-body count up. Several build-it-and-we-will-be-able-to-compete-withs have done these things. The governor even admitted the Knoxville whale had to do these things. As has Atlanta and Denver.

further in the convention industry playbook
1) We can't fill the center because we did not build it big enough. We are losing out on x% that are going to other cities because we are too small.
2) The convention center hotel is not big enough (or has been foreclosed on). We must expand/build a new one.

I still notice that there are events coming that would fit in the paid-for place or the private place up stream. I also still notice that public transportation, schools, roads, sidewalks, and stormwater are tremendously short of money. Shame we have 1 1/2 billion plus dollars tied up for decades with these little convention thingies, could have made a real difference in making Nashville a world-class city.

By: producer2 on 1/12/12 at 12:38

The Womens Final four booked Nashville based upon the ability for the City to have a Convention Center large enough to handle the ancillary events surrounding the tournament. This is also true of almost any other sporting event of any size. The City Paper was just looking for some salascious headlines when they put this stuff out. The real story is the 600,000 room nights booked and the fact that Nashville is on pace to have it's largest year ever in terms of room nights. More room nights more money for the City. Naysayers still can't handle the truth....

By: bfra on 1/12/12 at 1:31

producer2 - Your smoke blowing is getting old! The truth, taxpayers would love to know the TRUTH, the WHOLE TRUTH, not some made up yarn. Notice you didn't put in $$$ amounts in your smokey response.

By: producer2 on 1/12/12 at 1:36

Actually the only thing getting old is the handful of you negative ninnies continuing to try to make something out of nothing. The fact is the MCC is being built, rooms are being booked. If you want to continue trying to tear everything down, go ahead. the rest of us will try to do something positive and constructive for the City... See ya...

By: bfra on 1/12/12 at 1:46

Guess you aren't privey to financial status, you just blow more smoke.

By: wasaw on 1/12/12 at 3:35

Doesn't anyone find it strange that to get the numbers up to where they are desired, they are counting events booked at the Bridgestone? Aren't the MCC and Bridgestone two entirely completely seperate entities? If they're going to add in the rooms that are used due to Bridgestone useage, why not add in the rooms used due to the stadium or the coliseum?

And while the numbers game continues, how about giving the Nashville unions the information the mayor has promised them, maybe because of the transparency he promised everyone. Remember, Nashville labor was going to be used at the Center? Has anyone but me noticed the high number of Texas license plates on parked cars in the area, during the day time?

If the Center is a true taxpayer owned facility, why is the Center witholding information concerning future useage of that public owned building? No one wants to doubt their political leaders, but they make it really easy for us.

By: JeffF on 1/12/12 at 3:53

Knoxville managed to hold the same Final Four without a mega center. So did St Pete in 2008. So did Cleveland in 2007. San Jose in 1999, Kansas City in 1998, Cincinatti in 1997, Charlotte in 1996, Minneapolis in 1995, Richmond in 1994.

It looks like convention center fans were able to staple their beloved building onto a bid and claim it was why they won. St Pete is hosting again in 2015 without a mega center. Cause-and-effect is a nasty business that is best left for people who think on their own rather than have some swampland to sell.

I would suggest if the game continues to be played that we go back and credit the convention center for NCAA women's bowling championship for Vanderbilt, the founding of Fort Nashboro, and the rotation of Earth's axis.

By: NewYorker1 on 1/12/12 at 4:15

Lets hope a jumbo jet taking off from the Nashville airport falls on top of the MCC and there's no coverage in the insurance policies for falling jets and the project gets scrapped.

By: MusicCity615 on 1/12/12 at 4:15


The womens final four will be played at the arena. The activities pertinent to and leading up to the final four will be held at.... the MCC.

By: MusicCity615 on 1/12/12 at 4:16


Would you rather us take Cuomo's route and build the world's largest convention center in.... Queens??

By: bfra on 1/12/12 at 4:19

Now just what activities are that 615?

By: MusicCity615 on 1/12/12 at 5:00

Take a look at all the events taking place at the denver convention center in this year's final four....

By: ohplease on 1/12/12 at 10:12

It's a hugely expensive project. The city has lots of needs more important to its citizens than the convention center. And there are the other costs -- like, all of that land, worth many millions, is taken off the tax rolls. So there are reasons to gripe. But we had better all be hoping it's a success because if it isn't, we're all on the hook. So keep working to fill the CC and the hotel rooms. By the way, what's going on at Opryland's convention center? Are hotel rooms being booked there?

By: Ask01 on 1/13/12 at 8:19

Five organizations have chosen to remain anonymous, two have cancelled with a third possibly to follow.

All this drama with millions invested, only a partially finished building and, so far as I understand, not a single dollar in the drawer.

For a facility we citizens were assured would infuse copious amounts of money into the city coffers, this represents a dismal start.

Despite the glowing, or should that be flaming, predictions from some who must stand to profit personally from this debacle, without risking a single dime of their own money, I fear for the city if this fiasco fails to produce.

I am certain, however, Mayor Dean, his council serfs, and those businessmen, promoters, producers and the like hawking this structure will be happy to buy the facility from the city if they fall flat on their face.

Of course, I could be wrong and they could be afraid to put their personal money, as opposed to 'free' taxpayer money, where their enormous mouths are.

By: MusicCity615 on 1/13/12 at 9:20


"2 have cancelled with a third possibly to follow" ..... SOURCE?

"This represents a dismal start".... 600k room nights with another year before it opens is an AWESOME start.

By: Ask01 on 1/13/12 at 9:31

Ah, MusicCity615, please address all of the post. Cherry picking comments is so tacky, as my grandmother would say.

After all, 600k room nights that have yet to be occupied is hardly concrete. The millions invested and a partially completed building are concrete as are the two cancellations subtracting from the forecasted 600k nights.

By the way, if this does flop, you will be, as a vocal supporter willing to put up your personal money to pay back the taxpayers for financing your toy won't you?

By the way, skip the tired rhetoric about MCC being self supporting. My useless councilmember admitted before being thrown from office, the taxpayer would be on the hook if the city had to dip into general funds to cover the mortgage.

You will be a good sport and let us auction off your property to cover the tab won't you?

By: Ask01 on 1/13/12 at 9:39

I am curious about these letters of commitment being touted by Ms. Arnold. I haven't seen one, but I cannot believe any organization would sign something absolutely ironclad with no escape clause. If so, that would be indicative of the business sense which has placed the economy in the gutter.

That and the, in my opinion, unscrupulous business community capable of manipulating apparently weak willed civil servants to finance a profit center for them.

By: MusicCity615 on 1/13/12 at 9:49

I am a taxpayer just like you, Ask01. My potential benefits are just the same as yours from the MCC. I think it is a great investment for Nashville, as do many others.

By: MusicCity615 on 1/13/12 at 9:51

Ah, Ask01, Worrying does nothing but make you miserable, as my grandmother would say.

The pace of bookings the MCC has gathered so far is great, with more to come. If you worry that taxpayers are going to pay for some of this center without any actual payment being asked for, you are doing nothing but making yourself miserable.

By: Ask01 on 1/13/12 at 10:53

I seriously doubt any average taxpayer will recognize any benefit from functions staged at the MCC. While, if a usual staffing plan is followed, there will be a small core of full time employees, with hopefully some benefits, most jobs created will be part time, as needed, minimum wage, no benefits, driven by situational needs.

The only ones who will benefit driectly will individuals and service driven industries staging, producing, catering, and staffing events.

You are much too rah rah bout this for anyone to actualy believe you do not stand to profit personally from this venture.

As for me being miserable, far from it. I don't really worry about the convention center, as if profitable, the homeless will have another venue to panhandle, keeping them away from other places. Should it fail, the same homeless will at least have a place to sleep in the rotting hulk of the MCC.

By: Ask01 on 1/13/12 at 12:16

I do apologize for posting prior to finishing my thoughts, MusicCity615. My youngest has driving school early as school is out and that matter naturally took precedence. I can hardly believe she will soon be driving. Just in time to begin shuttling me between home, doctor, pharmacy and social security office. But I'm rambling again.

This is all a moot discussion at best. The project is underway, for better or worse, and will provide Mayor Dean his pharonical (I think that's a word) monument to ego at least until some other young go getter decides to bulldoze his temple to build a bigger (fill in the blank.)

Both sides produced 'experts' supporting their views, but as we all know, an ex is a has been, and a spurt is a drip under pressure. All the opposition is doing here is to yank the chains of rah rah, golden goose supporters and provide the opposing doom and gloom view.

I suspect the end result, like the truth will fall somewhere in the middle. At best, we'll all break even.

Have a good weekend.

By: MusicCity615 on 1/13/12 at 1:22

I can't do anything more than to say I do not stand to directly profit from this center, in any way.

I believe all citizens can benefit from more revenue into Metro's general fund, which is the sole purpose of the new MCC.

Have a great weekend.

By: bfra on 1/13/12 at 1:42

The cancellations are just another results of Dean & cohorts, putting the cart before the horse, so to speak! Just like start building before they have acquired the land needed.

By: Ask01 on 1/13/12 at 2:25

If MCC lives up to all the fanfare and promises which accompanied it's birth, the new convention center will indeed be a boon to the city.

However, once construction costs, to include property acquisition, legal fees for a myriad of reasons, maintenance, operating costs, insurance, and many other nickle and dime costs which don't spring immediately to mind are totaled and subtracted from the actual profit, that is revenue placed in the general fund, I cannot help but wonder if there will be a plus or minus in the column.

We often hear about the dollars tourists spend while here, but has anyone considered the negative impact our sometimes unruly visitors bring to the city? I seriously doubt much if any attention was given.

I do, believe it or not, want the MCC to live up to the hype, with gold falling from the sky and oil overflowing the toilets. We have gone too far to back off now. As I've noted previously, cancelling contracts would probably be as expensive as finishing. Plus, we would have a half completed monstrosity sprawled across so much of downtown.

An upside of all this is Mayor Dean will probably accomplish nothing else during his tenure for special interests as the spanking he received over the fairgrounds and golf course seem to indicate. People are watching him and the council now.

By: JeffF on 1/13/12 at 2:36

I cant wait for the 30,000 new jobs this one building will somehow produce. I have saved all the MPF produced talking points and editorials (charged to Metro) so we will have something to compare actuals to. But the playbook does not work this way in the meetings industry, because they are able to convince mayors and the like that the reasons these things fail to meet expectations (and it is well documented that these things ALWAYS fail to meet expectations) is because we did not spend enough! More expense must be added to meet just the first set of expectations or we risk loosing our investment. That's right, in order to keep from failing, money, our money, will always need to be going into the entity. So you are now left with an entitlement in the form of a building.

By: MusicCity615 on 1/13/12 at 2:59

Where was there a report stating that 30,000 new jobs would be created?

By: bfra on 1/13/12 at 3:20

I of course want the MCC to succeed, otherwise the taxpayers are really getting shafted. However, the taxpayers deserve to know the truth and not just keep getting someone "blowing smoke" about how rosey the situation is. This was started without enough thought & planning, and as I said before, putting the cart before the horse. Dean was so intent on boosting his "ego", the entire situation was railroaded thru, without much planning.

By: Loner on 1/14/12 at 7:52

Let me guess...the Ku Klux Klan wants to reserve the place for a few rallies...right?

By: Ingleweird on 1/14/12 at 11:20

Mountains from mole hills. CP writer Joey Garrison's article smacks of yellow journalism. This is not news; any company or group willing to spend thousands of dollars to hold an event in our city is entitled to withhold a public declaration of such.

Regarding Tower Investments, how in hell do they deserve a 100% return in investment profit for squatting on a vacant lot for less than 5 years? I know I'd be lucky to break even if I sold my property for the same amount of time. MDHA's Phil Ryan said the MDHA, "feels strongly that this property did not double in value in just three years during a major recession." Can anybody here tell the actual amount for which Tower originally purchased the land?

Finally, quit blaming Dean; this project has been in the works for over a decade. It was just a matter of when.

By: nashmusic2244 on 1/15/12 at 8:14

Wait a second.....They are using a publicly built and funded building BUT their names are not public record?
How is that so?
Cite the existing law that shields their name, city of Nashville!!!