Has the fairgrounds debate always been about racing?

Sunday, January 16, 2011 at 9:05pm
Fairgrounds2.jpg
Jude Ferrara/SouthComm

A few auto racing diehards have warned that they would chain themselves to the old grandstands at the Metro-owned fairgrounds racetrack if bulldozers ever show up along Nolensville Pike to destroy the track they love. 

Such talk could be hyperbole. Maybe. 

Stoking much of the passion and spirited back and forth over the future of the Tennessee State Fairgrounds has been the fate of what auto racing drivers, fans and others call a historic racetrack. They contend the Fairgrounds Speedway is one of the best short tracks in the world. 

Those with longstanding ties to the track have packed fair board meetings for the past three years, arguing that a greater city investment and long-term lease with an operator are all that is required to help turn around a facility that hasn’t made money in years. 

“Nashville is about offering diversity and people of different interests a place to go and enjoy entertainment,” said Chad Chaffin, a driver who has taken home two championships at the Fairgrounds Speedway. “In this case, if you’re a racer, it’s a place to participate in the sport of your choice. This facility has been there so long. It’s something we can’t move. We can’t build another one.” 

On the other side are fairgrounds neighbors from the group South Nashville Action People, who say the racetrack brings insufferable noise to the surrounding community. Neighbors have launched the website www.neighborsforprogress.org, which features a video purportedly capturing the noise from a neighbor’s perspective on a Sunday afternoon. 

“This is what you hear from inside my house,” nearby resident Clay Kottler says in the video, the sound of high-speed cars roaring in the background. 

If it wasn’t already, the racetrack is certainly at center stage now that the Metro Council is set to consider a bill that would initiate its demolition but keep the expo center and state fair at the fairgrounds for at least one more year. The crucial second of three votes on that bill is Jan. 18. 

Council members introduced the proposal in December, just as Mayor Karl Dean retreated on previous plans to relocate the facility’s expo center to Antioch to pursue the immediate redevelopment of the fairgrounds site. The bill, which the Dean administration supports, would work in accordance with intentions to turn the property’s floodplain into a 40-acre park. 

Metro Finance Director Richard Riebeling has said there is no cost estimate for the demolition of the track but said he guessed it would be in the “half-million dollar range.” Funds, he said, would come out of $2 million already marked for the planning and construction of the park. 

Introduced by Councilwoman Megan Barry, the Budget and Finance Committee chair, the legislation already enjoys the support of eight council cosponsors. But there are at least that many definitive “no” votes. The final tally is to be preceded by a marathon public hearing that, if history is an indicator, could be dominated by racetrack preservationists. At a special council work session last weekend, a few members asked that the ordinance be deferred to allow for more dialogue. Assuming the bill isn’t deferred, a close vote is expected. 

What matters for the fairgrounds 

Even before Dean pulled back on his overarching fairgrounds plans late last year, the mayor’s backers had always maintained that the racetrack — not the expo center, flea market or state fair — was the primary source of all the hoopla.  

They pointed then, and still do, to the group Save My Fairgrounds, backed by a well-funded public relations firm, which has become the organizational apparatus behind opposition to Dean’s fairgrounds plan. It is widely believed that racing legends Darrell Waltrip and Sterling Marlin, who the mayor’s supporters often note reside out of county, are providing a bulk of the funding. In addition, Dean’s loyalists have wondered how many of those 45,000-plus petition signatures in support of saving the fairgrounds are racing fans who aren’t also Nashvillians. 

Board of Fair Commissioners chair James Weaver has called the racetrack “the tail wagging the dog” when it comes to the fairgrounds debate, pointing out that the expo center, flea market and Tennessee State Fair are to remain at the property for at least one more year until long-term locations are landed. 

“So, what are you left with?” Weaver said. “The only thing you’re left with is the racetrack. This discussion that is ongoing right at the moment … this is just about racing. And that’s fine, but we just ought to say that. We shouldn’t pretend that it’s about the fair, or that it’s about the flea market, or that it’s about the expo events because it’s not. That’s rhetoric created by a public relations firm because they think it helps their position, which is fine. I’m not belittling it. I’m just calling it like it is.” 

Darden Copeland, founder of The Calvert Street Group and the operator behind Save My Fairgrounds — the PR firm Weaver alluded to — has declined to reveal the names of the group’s donors. “I’m not going to get into who specifically,” he said. “We’re not going to get into what percentage is this person and what percentage is that person. It’s a collective effort.” 

Copeland insists the opposition is about more than just saving the racetrack, but he suggested its demise would lead to the end of the expo center and state fair. 

“Everyone out there has always viewed it as a three-legged stool,” Copeland said. “They all support one another. If you take away one, you take away the other two. In this case, the mayor is trying to make the racetrack the first domino to fall..”

Not financially feasible 

The Fairgrounds Speedway opened as a horseracing track in 1904. It was later covered with asphalt and converted for auto racing. From 1958-84, NASCAR was the primary tenant. Along with Waltrip and Marlin, racing legends who have competed on the 0.6-mile track include Bobby Allison and Dale Earnhardt, among a host of others. 

Though professional racing continued to a degree, NASCAR’s exit in 1984 led to the arrival of more amateur weekly racing at the approximately 15,000-seat speedway, which became known briefly as Music City Motorplex. In recent years, the track’s operation has changed hands from promoter Joe Mattioli III — whose family owns Pocono International Raceway — to Danny Denson in 2009, and to current operator Tony Formosa. Denson still owes the fair board about 50 percent of the lease he agreed to pay. 

According to Weaver, most operators over the years have sought at least a 10-year lease in order to turn the track into a more financially successful operation. That, he said, has raised the issue of whether it’s in the city’s best interest to maintain the track long-term. The fair board isn’t convinced it is. 

“Given the changes that are occurring in the neighborhood, in 12South, in and around Belmont, and near the Melrose area, it’s beyond sort of logic that in 2020, 2025, 2030, that this is the right place for a racetrack,” Weaver said. “Particularly given that the racetrack itself as an entity produces little or nothing certainly for the fair board.”

As far as revenue, Weaver said the racetrack provides approximately 6 cents per square foot while the rest of the fairgrounds — through the state fair and expo events — produces nearly $3.50 per square foot. 

Riebeling, the administration’s point person for their fairgrounds plans, has a similar take. 

“If you look at it next to a large chunk of the [fairgrounds] site, there’s really very little return coming from that,” Riebeling said. “So, I think from a pure financial standpoint, it’s not really something that makes good economic sense.” 

Slow year 

Formosa, whose history at the Fairgrounds Speedway dates back to 1969, organized five races there in 2010, which he said generated an average of 6,500 spectators per event. Rather than leasing the track, Formosa rented the track for $20,000. Unlike Denson, Formosa fully paid his financial obligation. 

Formosa said he would prefer to keep operating at the fairgrounds, ideally through a long-term lease. “In my eyes, it was just starting to be reborn,” he said, referring to last year’s run. 

“The track has been handicapped, its potential has been limited to a certain degree, simply because here lately, there haven’t been many [events],” Formosa said. “Like last year. I proposed for a full race season, but they came back and only gave me five races. That was it. That’s all we could do. 

“In order to really make this things spectacular, in order to really, really generate sponsors, generate major corporations, television coverage, big-name drivers, big-name people to come on and get involved, you have to have a [long-term] lease,”
he said. 

Infuriating Dean’s fairgrounds opposition earlier this month was news that Metro had already sent out a request for proposals for an architectural firm to begin the design process of the new faigrounds park. The RFP referenced the racetrack in past tense, calling it “a former racetrack.” 

In response, mayor’s office spokeswoman Janel Lacy said the park RFP “has nothing to do with the demolition of the racetrack.” In doing so, she implied that the park could actually coexist with the racetrack if the council were to elect not to destroy it. That opened the door last week for Copeland to offer a sketched-out proposal to revamp the racetrack and add new amenities to the site, including the 40-acre park and a new expo center building. The mayor’s office indicated it would not consider the proposal, which as of Thursday remained short on details. 

26 Comments on this post:

By: JW Cartwright on 1/17/11 at 1:17

That race track has been there for over 50 years, people knew that when they moved in that neighborhood,quit crying or move.Metro needs to give a long term lease so some one will invest in the track

By: karlwithak on 1/17/11 at 7:51

If you go back and look over the comments to previous Fairgrounds related articles you see a trend.

What I don't understand is how did all these uneducated and poor folks afford this - well-funded public relations firm, which has become the organizational apparatus behind opposition to Dean’s fairgrounds plan. ?

It is widely believed that racing legends Darrell Waltrip and Sterling Marlin, who the mayor’s supporters often note reside out of county, are providing a bulk of the funding."

Doesn't Mike Curb live in Davidson County ?

Why was his name left out ?

By: 117_acres on 10/8/10 at 3:40
Do you think soon to be Governor Haslam (A billionaire) is going to want to keep the fairgrounds property? 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.

Why is Dominy still fighting for the Fairgrounds if the house race is long over ?

I guess someone should point out to Fred Agee the fact that New Governor Haslam a (billionaire) is also a NASCAR fan and his family business Pilot Travel Centers is a NASCAR team sponsor.

Another Fred Agee foot in mouth comment.

If the group had to release it's financial backers today, the lack of any funds from DW would be proof of another in a long line of misconceptions by those opposed to the track.

It's a 100% grassroots effort by the poor and uneducated working for FREE because they have something the other side doesn't.
Passion and Loyalty.

They may be poor and uneducated but they are kicking some major tail against some rich college educated attorneys !

By: bfra on 1/17/11 at 8:14

Maybe dittsy Dean misjudged the, For the Fairgrounds people, when he said we are not on a level to communicate with him. This hopefully, 1 time mayor, should learn to communicate with the people that elected him, but now realize what a BIG mistake they made.

By: nourider on 1/17/11 at 8:42

Libraries and parks don't generate revenue either, but I'm glad we have them.

By: spooky24 on 1/17/11 at 8:50

As I have pointed out I really have no opinion one way or the other-there is much to be said of both points of view. I am wondering who was responsible for the notice published in the Tenn. yesterday. The 1/4 page ad has numerous grammar mistakes and misspellings-what is an 'Ice Hoc center'? That is the first thing everyone who sees it comments on. No one is expecting the flawless perfection of transformational grammar in something George Will would writes but really, it looks like laziness wrote it.
Also, pointing out that other metro taxpayer funded venues technically lose money, is not the way to enlist support.

sp

By: jwd88 on 1/17/11 at 10:01

Has everyone seen the proposal that the Save the Fairgrounds has submitted... It looks awesome. I think it will be a welcome addition to the community. It will keep all venues in operation, and keep the racetrack quite. It looks like more noise from the interstate and boom-boom car stereos and trains will be all that it heard.

But as a racer, well I gotta say I hate it.. I think race cars should be loud, that adds to the excitment. But in the name of coming to a compromise with the surrounding neighborhoods, I will put the quietest performance muffler available. We dont need noise to go fast.. I may even come to like it. I will be able concentrate more on driving. But the track needs sound barriers too, around the track and in the grandstands. I believe that it can be done, I think that you could even walk in the park during race night and appreciate what is being done for the community.

This is the first real solution for the fairgrounds property, It keeps our State Fair alive, It keeps all the Expo events coming and the Flea Market on track to be the best in the nation. You have to admit this is a good deal for everybody. It will keep 1000's of jobs secured, increase the tax base and increase the economic impact to the local economy. Also it will become larger impact than the titans and preditors, and any other venue combined, that the city has to offer. And dont forget...... SELF SUPPORTING, You cant say that, for anything else the city has done in the past. Not to mention, that the city's infrastructure for this area is simply not ready to support anything larger than whats already there.. Its at least 20 years out before the infrastructure can accomodate anything more from West End to Nolensville Road. I think that the surrounding business districts should be upgraded first before even considering the fairgrounds property.

So Yes, I like the new proposal, give them at least a 15 year lease, By then we will know if the City, is indeed ready, to redevelop the fairgrounds property, or if the property has proven itself worthy enough to remain. I would like the council to vote "NO" on the bill on Jan. 18. and save the fairgrounds as a valuable neighbor in District 17.

By: bfra on 1/17/11 at 10:15

jwd88 - This makes more sense, than anything Karl & crew have offered!

By: yucchhii on 1/17/11 at 10:48

yucchhii HOW MANY TIMES MUST I SAY THAT THE CITY GOVERNMENT IS SIMPLY PUTTING MONEY IN THEIR OWN POCKETS!!! There is no other reason why they would do ANYTHING!! remember we're talking about POLITICIANS here. Politicians have continuosly demonstarted CROOKEDNESS and they thing they can do these things and GET AWAY with it!!!! HELLO???

By: wataboutbob on 1/17/11 at 11:03

Nashville is not just for Nashvillians, it's for all Tennessee and America. Keep taking away everything that makes up the Nashville persona and you'll end up with just another Knoxville or Birmingham, places you pass through.

By: wayneCaluger on 1/17/11 at 11:03

South Nashville Action People, who say the racetrack brings insufferable noise to the surrounding community be careful what you wish for! Now you have this insufferable noise a few hours each week through the summer.

Once plowed under the push will be to find someone, anyone who can use the property to get the negative revenue burden off Metro back.

Based on the location, terrain, flooding from the nearby creek and railroad tracks the most suitable tenant to me would be a freight terminal.

So the trade off could very well be a 24/7 sound of diesel semi trucks chugging up and down Wedgewood Ave on their way to I-65 and on Polk Avenue on their way to Fessler Lane I-40/24. Guess what, their want be a thing you can do about it as Dean and the Chamber pushes through the planning commission and council.

If you think Metro has the money to plow everything under, plant tree's and grass; build, equip, staff and maintain community center and/or library think again! The only option at this time is turn it over to be developed offering huge tax incentives.

South Nashville Action People you need to get Dean to first present a plan on what he is going to replace everything with first. If not most likely you will find yourself worse off than you think you are.

By: pswindle on 1/17/11 at 11:03

The big race car people have come out with a plan that sounds great and it does not use taxpayers money. I hope they can stall Dean until he is out of office. I do not understand what Dean has promised to the ones that want the Fairgarounds for thier own personal use. .The truth will come out.

By: GUARDIAN on 1/17/11 at 11:10

GUARDIAN-A long term lease to a good track operator that has the wisdom and honesty to use the track for all the things it could be is the best answer.

By: joe41 on 1/17/11 at 11:32

We have an auto race I hope this is not about the racetrack. It should be about th
e State Fair. If the right people were running it, we would have a gold mine. But incompetents ran the fair and it failed. We have a race track in Wilson County and the best fair in the state is in Wilson County also. Maybe we ought to just cede these two to them.
Joe

By: MAmom on 1/17/11 at 12:24

When I took my son and a friend to the State Fair - they rode rides and ate Midway food - and it put me back around $60 dollars. ABSOLUTELY THE FAIR WOULD BE A GOLD MINE - IF MANAGED PROPERLY!

THE FAIR isn't as profitable as it should. But It is easy to create a loss situation if you try ... and the DEAN TEAM (i.e.: Weaver, Buck, Riebeling, Varney, etal.) have been doing their best to make Fairgrounds operations look bad.

FOR EXAMPLE:
The Markin "Tennessee State Fair Assessment Summary Report" dated 5/6/8 (which is on the nashville.gov website) says State Fair revenues in FY2006 = $1,302,000, FY2007= $1,451,000, FY2008=1,377,000. In 2010 this profitable enterprise was handled differently.

According to an article in the 2/13/2010 Tennessean named "Two sue to force Metro to have state fair", Buck Dozier said: "In previous years, we were in charge of the fair and ran the entire operation, and we'd take proposals for the companies who brought the equipment,...Now, they'd do it all and be paying us to use the property."

The Fair Board took the lowest bid... the one by ROCKHOUSE - a new organization. One of the 4 partners of this group is Chrysty Fortner. She was a "grass roots" supporter of the Dean mayoral campaign.

In 2010 Ms. Fortner and her partners kept the profits...

It's all connected.

By: MAmom on 1/17/11 at 1:09

There is a CRITICAL Council meeting at the Courthouse Tuesday, Jan 18 at 6p.

One of the bills which will be considered is step 1 in Karl Dean's plan to demolish the fairgrounds. It concerns demolition of the racetrack. And, if the racetrack is destroyed - the rest of the activities will be next.

If you want to protect the Fairgrounds from destruction - keep it open to the public - you should ATTEND this meeting. At this meeting the public will be given a chance to speak - 3 minutes each - to let the council know what they think about this bill & this issue.

Also call and email the Council representatives & let them know how you feel about this issue.
---
The petition to save the fairgrounds has over 40,000 signatures from people who all over Davidson County, Middle Tennessee, the rest of the country, and a few international visitors.

A professionally managed Fairgrounds with competent governance will complement the new convention center, if given a chance. Dean is too stubborn to see this.

Hope to see you at the meeting.

By: fair_minded on 1/17/11 at 2:15

If the mayor and the Fair Board claim that the race track does not make money, it's their own poor management. This is because the track is *leased* out. Therefore any loss or profit is born by the promoter, not the Fair Board.

The Fair Board has always received exactly what it's asked for as far as the lease arrangements on the track. Even in 2009, when the promoter only paid 50% of the lease amount, he was required to have a cash bond in place in case of default. Therefore, the Fair Board received the full amount of payments through the bond. And that was the only time in over 100 years that a promoter has defaulted on lease payments on the racetrack.

And why should just a few races be expected to pay the full 365-day cost of the racetrack? Why is that facility not leased out for other events as well. Concerts at that location could bring in more cash than the racing events, and between the two activities, could bring a considerable amount to the Fair Board.

Not making money from race track leases is a function of Dozier and the Fair Board purposefully engineering a loss for the Fairgrounds operation.

But no, they have not made any effort to promote the use of the racetrack. Instead, we are paying Buck Dozier $90k a year to sabotage the Fairgrounds for the mayor.

See Dozier's emails here: http://enclave-nashville.blogspot.com/ showing a glimpse of the backroom maneuvers to kill the Fairgrounds.

as to the sound levels:
A telephone dial-tone is 80db.. Traffic noise heard from inside your car is 85db... a concert violin is 82-92db... standing 3 feet away from a power mower, the sound is 107db!

here's a table with more typical sound levels:
http://www.gcaudio.com/resources/howtos/loudness.html

Even OSHA, the government agency that monitors worker's safety in the work place does not require sound protection measures unless exposure is over 90db for *AT LEAST 8 HOURS* per day.... and no races or practices held at the Fairgrounds last that long, and in any event race events are not held each day...

http://www.osha.gov/pls/oshaweb/owadisp.show_document?p_table=standards&p_id=9735

just thought we should look at this in perspective.

By: rdbjr on 1/17/11 at 2:39

If you SUPPORT the mayor's initiative (as do many others who have been way too quiet in this debate), then you are also encouraged to contact your Council representatives and attend the Council meeting on Tuesday.

There are many very good reasons to support the redevelopment of this large, prime, inner-city property. They just don't raise quite as many emotions as those presented by fans of car racing. The financial and economic benefits of keeping the track, however improved, would pale in comparison to a redevelopment of the fairgrounds that included office buildings and retail outlets. Such development would also enhance infill development in the city's core, spur economic growth and avoid sprawl (e.g. the Maytown proposal).

Also, regardless of the question "Why are they complaining about the noise now?", a park, a cleaned up Brown's Creek, and vibrant businesses would surely benefit the neighbors by improving property values for years to come.

Yes, the drawings put forth by those interested in saving the track look appealing, but I wonder how long-lasting and sustainable they would be given that the track has been neglected for so long. Where have these passionate fans been all this time, and will they stick around to support the proposal over the next five, ten or 20 years?

By: TITAN1 on 1/17/11 at 2:55

I wonder if DW and Sterling would want to lease the track long term? I think those two racing professionals and businessmen could make it work for everyone.

By: bfra on 1/17/11 at 3:13

rdbjr - in comparison to a redevelopment of the fairgrounds that included office buildings and retail outlets. Such development would also enhance infill
==============================

Where are all these plans of redevelopment of the fairgrounds, office bldgs. & retail outlets? Pardon, but h**l, Karl & cohorts can't even offer a price for demolishing the race track. What do they want, or so far have taken, a BLANK check on taxpayer's money?

By: fair_minded on 1/17/11 at 3:18

@TITAN1 - the recent proposal calls for a 15-year lease on the entire Fairgrounds property, and the management of the flea market, State Fair, expo buildings, racetrack-- the whole enchilada.... so yes, a long term lease is not only requested, but would be needed for them to recover their investment in improvements to the property.

@rdbjr - you ask where all the supporters have been-- we've all been right here, begging for improvements to the Fairgrounds for years. Even since the late '90's (and maybe before) supporters have been trying to get the Fair Board to do something about the facility and the programs there.

In 1999 there was a committee formed in District 17 to make suggestions, all of which were ignored by the mayor and Fair Board.

The Fair Board commissioned the most recent study by Markin Associates as a result of the race track promoter asking for a longer lease so that he could afford to make capital improvements to the race track.

The proposal by the Fairgrounds Heritage Preservation Group, which has been integrated with the SaveMyFairgrounds proposal, was done almost three years ago.

The South Nashville Plan, which calls for improvements in the Fairgrounds started with neighborhood meetings in 2007.

So supporters have always been here, just ignored by an administration that wants to make a land grab.

And if you think an urban fairgrounds can't work, check out the Wisconsin State Fairgrounds in downtown Milwaukee along with it's track the "Milwaukee Mile" (the only racetrack in the US older than the Fairgrounds Speedway!) and sitting in the middle of an upscale neighborhood .....

or the Indianapolis Motor Speedway, home of the Indy 500, sitting in the middle of a residential neighborhood (16th Street) next to downtown Indianapolis....

or maybe Daytona International Speedway, sitting in the middle of downtown Daytona Beach.... and the list goes on and on.

The only problem with the Fairgrounds is the current and past mayors who have tried to let it wither and die so that they could grab the real estate for their friends and campaign supporters. Fighting as hard as he is in the face of so much public opposition, dean has obviously already promised the property to one of his pals and now must deliver, no matter what.

By: MAmom on 1/17/11 at 3:55

to rdbjr:

To answer your compound question: "Where have these passionate fans been all this time, and will they stick around to support the proposal over the next five, ten or 20 years?"

1. YES, we will be here to support the fairgrounds in five, ten, or twenty years. Many of the people who want to the save the faigrounds are native Nashvillians or native middle-Tennesseans. It's been my observation that mostly condescending newbies (like DEAN) & overly ambitious, business types are the ones who want to destroy the Fairgrounds.

2. What makes you think everyone opposed to "redevelopment" is a race fan?
Most are not. We want the Fairgrounds for the diverse activities that are held there. A list of the diverse events held at the Fairgrounds in 2010 is below.* And this is a short list because many shows (like the Civil War show - were chased away by DEAN etal).

3. Where have the fans been all this time? The Fair Board controls events at the racetrack and the Fairgrounds in general. If they do not permit events to occur - guess what - it affects attendance.

4. The Fairgrounds have been run poorly for a long time. It's the reason the place is dilapidated and financial performance is down. Run professionally - like a business - the Fairgrounds will COMPLEMENT the local convention centers.

Most visitors who come to Nashville aren't looking for fine art or shopping - they EXPECT traditional southern experiences. Things like country music, racing, flea market, mingling with the locals, etc. If they don't find these - they will be disappointed - and the tourism visitors WILL NOT COME BACK and your hotel will be empty.

See you at the meeting.

---

*12 Flea Markets per year plus the Expo Events: Toy Train Show, Middle TN Jewelry, Gem, Fossil and Mineral Show, Project Homeless Connect, Goodman Gun Show, Music City Guitar Show, Music City Bike, Car and Boat Show, The Gathering Season, MTRCCA Swap Meet, Tailgate Antique Show/Antiques at Music Valley, Nashville Comic Con Wizard World Convention, AKC Dog Show, Gameness Fighting Championship, Middle Tennessee Cage Bird Show, American Gem Expo Bead & Jewelry Show, Liquidation Expo, Crock's Warehouse Show, "Parts is Parts" Swap Meet, Hip Hop in the Ville Car Show, Mitchell Car Show, Christmas Village, Fostoria Glass Show, Blue Star Liquidation Expo, Nashville Fight Night-Benefiting 501(c)(3) Boxing Resource Center, The Nashville Storm Hip-Hop and R&B Festival, Showtime All-Star Wrestling, New Age Galactic Expo, Ceramic Doll Show, Perennial Plant Sale, Mission Medicine, Malic Jewels Jewelry and Gift Show, Blue Star Super Golf Sale, The Gathering Season Crafts and Antique Show, Hunters Custom Auto Expo, Showtime all-Star Wresting, The Home Show, Tailgate Antique Show, Stones River Region Swap Meet, American Gem Expo, Countrywide Liquidation Expo, Music City Toy Train Show, Nashville Auto Fest, etc.

By: vendor78 on 1/18/11 at 1:47

This has never been about racing, or the state fair, or the flea market.

This is about real estate.

You have to look no further than James Weaver to realize this fact. His comments in today's paper confirm this. Weaver sounds more like a real estate appraiser or broker than he does Chairman of the Fair Board. He is more concerned with how much money the Fairgrounds produces "per square foot", than what the Fairgrounds produces in "future farmers per TN county" or "number of kids kept off the streets on Saturday night."

I was told James Weaver recused himself several years ago when the Board began to discuss redevelopment plans because his wife works for one of the big realty companies. As we know, he did not recuse himself when it came to the CBL lease at Hickory Hollow.

To the researchers out there: the Fifty Forward building sits on Fairgrounds property (Wedgewood and Rains). It has no deed or parcel number, and was given a $1 per year lease for 40 years. I was told they moved from another location downtown or out on Charlotte. Some developer wanted their land, and paid Fifty Forward $1.8 million to leave, but FF had no place to go and rebuild for $1.8 million. Enter the Fairgrounds site. Free land (well, $40), and they could then put the $1.8 million towards.building the new facility. My question: who was the developer of the old Fifty Forward site, and who represented them? Why did the Fair Board give away the Fairgrounds property (in a nice location) to a senior living facility that had a perfectly good building except for the potential interest from another developer? Was James Weaver involved in this?

By: CrimesDown on 1/18/11 at 2:14

I'm glad they care so much for our hearing. I guess this means that Karl is going to ban the following Metro backed sources of noise.

Firework show 150 -190 decibels

Average concert 115 decibels

City bus 90-100 decibels

Jet taking off 130 to 140 decibels

Jet landing average 106 decibels

Garbage truck average 97 decibels

Politicians acceptance speech 90 to 100 decibels

NFL football game 110 decibels

Symphonic music peak 120-137 decibels

Gavel strike at council meeting 100 decibels

By: dogmrb on 1/18/11 at 9:37

Well, a bunch of well-paid PR stringers presented their much coordinated, pro-racing talking points during work hours yesterday. What happened after 2:30? The race track noise travels much farther than the neighborhood around the track and is irritating to many.

By: pswindle on 1/18/11 at 10:44

It seems that Dean has made up his mind. Now it is time for the people to make up thier mind and save this historic Fairgrounds. Thanks to the racing individuals for stepping forward. Your vocie was needed.

By: bfra on 1/18/11 at 10:54

dogmrb - So are trains, planes & automobiles. Do you suggest we do away with them also?