Riding a wave of confidence after last month’s approval of a new $585 million convention center, Nashville’s leading tourism official envisions Music City vying to host the Grammy Awards and NHL All-Star Game in the future.
Already, Nashville’s newly christened Bridgestone Arena (formerly the Sommet Center) is slated to accommodate the 2014 NCAA Division I Women’s Final Four, with backers who pushed for the construction of Music City Center contending the future 1.2 million-square-foot facility clinched the deal for the tournament’s arrival.
When asked what signature events Nashville would try to attract next, Butch Spyridon, president of the Nashville Convention and Visitors Bureau, told The City Paper, “NHL All-Star Game — we’ll go after that.”
“My dream? Grammys,” he continued. “With Nashville’s brand and the strength of the industry, we need to pursue it.”
Given the 12-year-run of the Nashville Predators, Nashville’s candidacy for a future NHL All-Star Game is natural. Though the ongoing Winter Olympics meant the cancellation of this year’s all-star game, recent host cities include Montreal, Atlanta and Dallas.
On paper, Nashville’s viability in hosting a future Grammy Awards ceremony — the last six of which have been held in Los Angeles — may seem improbable, but there are a few connections.
Nashville is one of 12 cities nationwide that is home to a regional chapter of the Recording Academy, the group of recording professionals that puts on the Grammy Awards. In addition, the organization’s chair George Flanigen calls Nashville home.
Moreover, Nashville hosted the Grammy Awards in 1973 at the old Tennessee Theatre before the ceremony began alternating locations between New York and Los Angeles.
Spyridon said Nashville would have the facilities to host a Grammy ceremony once Music City Center and its adjacent hotel are complete. He also said there’s a “broadened perception” of the Music City brand, with 18 of the most recent Grammy Award winners having connections to Nashville.
Spyridon made it clear, however, that there’s been no formal effort to promote Nashville as an occasional or one-year host of the Grammy Awards, adding all talk is “casual.”
“I’ve kind of just thrown the softball out that we want to be interested,” he said. “We haven’t put it together because we needed the new [Music City Center]. We needed to get approval. The hotel needs to be definitive.”
Mayor Karl Dean said commenting on the matter would be premature.
“Obviously, I think Nashville is a very attractive city for any large event,” Dean said. “Right now, while we’re still working on the convention center, it’s probably premature to discuss the Grammys. It’s obviously something we would be interested and honored in, but it’s premature to be talking about that.”