of Nashville's biggest conventions may be leaving town.
Music Products Association says unless Nashville adds more convention
space, it will consider another city after its contract with Metro
expires in 2002. After a decade in Music City, the association would
take away its business, along with 21,000 visitors who spend an
estimated $2.5 million during three days.
are listening but may not be able to do much.
of our best and most loyal customers," says Butch Spyridon,
executive vice president of the Nashville Convention & Visitors
Bureau. "To say that we can't afford to lose them would be an understatement."
Music Products Association wants Metro to expand the downtown
convention center, but that could be difficult. Metro agreed not to
expand the center before 2006 in an agreement hammered out between
then-Mayor Phil Bredesen and then-Gaylord Entertainment Co. CEO Bud
Wendell in 1996, when the Opryland Hotel began its Delta expansion.
Last year however,
Terry London, current Gaylord CEO, approved the Metro Convention
Center Commission's move to conduct a feasibility study on convention
center expansion/construction. That study indicated a strong need for
either or both.
Gaylord is now
spending another $70 million to remodel much of the hotel, and
officials there say that there is no competition between the two
entities for meeting and convention business due to the size and
nature of each facility. In addition, any convention center work
probably would not begin until the 1996 pact has expired.
says without more space, it will have to continue restricting
exhibitor attendance at the convention.
being in `Music City USA.' It would be very difficult to leave, but
we are obligated to look around and see what the other offers
are," says Larry Linkin, president and CEO.
Music Products Association has been holding its "Summer
Session" in Nashville since 1993. Originally intended to be a
small, alternative event to the organization's West Coast conference
held every January, the Summer Session has grown significantly every
year, and now has completely filled the Nashville Convention Center
and spilled into the Gaylord Entertainment Center. Last year it was
the city's eighth largest convention, with 15,000 attending,
according to the Nashville Convention and Visitors Bureau.
while saying that they love being in Nashville, say at the same time
that they're going to have to move the show if the city can't give
them more space. Linkin estimates that attendance will reach 21,000
people this year. Of the convention center's 119,000 square feet, it
is using 115,000, plus a spillover of 40,000 in the arena.
commissioned by the CVB showed a larger convention center would
attract more meetings.
Hotel has been a great equalizer to keep us from falling behind, but
we are limited in terms of jumping ahead. When Atlanta, San Antonio
and Orlando expand their facilities, the market shrinks. It's not
that there are bigger shows being done, it's that they can hold two
or three at once," Spyridon.
The goal is not to
compete with the hotel. In fact, the hotel's success benefits downtown.
conventions that will not or cannot go to the Opryland Hotel for a
variety of reasons, just as there are conventions that cannot or will
not come downtown due to space limitations.
important for us to look at something that's competitive with the
Opryland Hotel, but also enhances Nashville's appeal. We don't need
to duplicate ourselves."
American City Business Journals Inc
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