Nashville's Music City Center Faces Final Debate

The construction of Nashville's Music City Center, a new downtown convention center, is becoming more and more of a reality. The Nashville Metro Council has voted 33-3 on a proposal to borrow $75 million to purchase almost 16 acres of land south of Broadway for the center.

If the proposal passes its final vote June 2, the last of the three needed to approve the purchase, the project to build the 1.2-million-square-foot facility will move forward. Construction is scheduled for completion in 2013.

Proponents of the new center say that by growing convention business, Nashville can reap economic benefits for tourism, jobs and downtown development. They also say that Nashville, with the 115th largest convention center in the country, is turning away business that the new convention center will allow it to accept.

Some, however, disagree with such predictions. Though the convention center will be much bigger than its existing facility, it won't be able to compete with those of other destinations such as Chicago (where the center is seven times larger) and Las Vegas (where it is five times larger).

"Nashville is not, nor will it ever be, in the top tier," Heywood Sanders, urban studies professor at the University of Texas at San Antonio, told Nashville News.

This, combined with a slowing convention business and still-increasing supply, should be considered before going forward with the center, according to opponents.

These issues and more regarding the Music City Center will be discussed Sunday, May 31, in a debate between project supporter Butch Spyridon, president of the Nashville Convention and Visitors Bureau, and opponent Sanders.
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