Following Debate, Nashville Approves Convention Center Land Purchase

Nashville is one step closer to building a new convention center, according to local newspaper The Tennessean, as the Nashville city council voted this week in favor of a bill that would allow the city to borrow $75 million to purchase 15.87 acres of downtown land on which to build the proposed new Music City Convention Center.

Held yesterday, the vote was the final of three required votes and followed a fierce public debate that took place during a public forum held last weekend at Vanderbilt University, during which critics and supporters alike pleaded their cases relative to the $600 million convention center project.

"If you were to draw up a scenario for a city to succeed in the convention market, Nashville is the city you'd create," Nashville Convention & Visitors Bureau President Butch Spyridon said during last weekend's public forum. "We have sold this destination on the merits of the destination."

Supporters of the estimated $595 million Music City Convention Center—which will have 1.2 million square feet of space—argue that Nashville needs a new convention center in order to compete for much-needed meetings business.

Critics of the project, however, worry that it will cost the city money it doesn't have and won't be able to collect as a result of the economy. The nation's supply of meeting space doesn't match its demand, they argue, and Nashville will therefore have trouble attracting the groups it needs in order to pay for the project.

Already, Nashville has spent $9 million in tourism taxes on the predevelopment phase of the project, which will also include a public/private hotel that would cost another $300 million to build. A final cost estimate isn't expected for another six months.

For more information about the Music City Convention Center, including project updates, visit www.nashvillemusiccitycenter.com.