Is someone gearing up for an anti-Gaylord media campaign? It would certainly appear that way based on a phone survey of Davidson County residents being conducted last week.
The survey, which originates from a Denver area code, features questions that appear to be slanted against Gaylord and slanted in favor of the proposed new downtown convention center.
It is being conducted at the same time Gaylord is in ongoing talks with Mayor Karl Dean’s administration about the proposed new convention center, its attached headquarters hotel and the effect it could have on Nashville’s tourism industry.
Political observers are keeping a close eye on the negotiations between Dean and Gaylord officials.
It was unclear which group sponsored or financed the phone poll, but somewhat leading questions appear to paint Gaylord in a negative light. Folks can judge for themselves from this sampling of the questions asked:
— “Do you think it was right for Nashville government to give Gaylord $80 million in tax breaks?”
— “Do you think it was greedy of Gaylord to close the theme park?”
— “Do you think Gaylord was dishonest in changing the format of its radio station?”
Such surveys are often conducted during political campaigns to test which negative messages resonate with the public.
The poll also included generic questions about whether the public thinks Nashville needs a new convention center and an attached headquarters hotel to boost its tourism industry.
“If there is in fact a negative survey campaign against Gaylord, we would be very disappointed, particularly while we are in the midst of very constructive conversations with the mayor’s office about what is in the best interests of Nashville,” said Tom Ingram, who has been hired as a consultant by Gaylord to work on its behalf in advance of Dean presenting a final convention center financing plan to Metro Council for approval.
Ingram said Gaylord “wants to be a good corporate citizen and is in a series of what we view as constructive conversations” with Dean’s office.
Dean’s press secretary, Janel Lacy, said the administration had no knowledge of the survey.
Additionally, one question asked about the respondent’s feelings of how public relations money was spent on pre-development of the new convention center. That question centers around the fallout of Metro officials giving the OK for spending more than $458,000 on public relations work from McNeely, Pigott & Fox, even though the original contract was capped at $75,000.
Two years ago, Metro approved a deal with Gaylord to provide the company with $80 million in Tourism Development Zone financing for use in its expansion project, which has yet to begin. The funds can only be used for expansion and Gaylord has not spent any of the money to date.