NASHVILLE, Tenn. – On the eve of a final vote for a new Nashville convention center, several groups are working either for or against the $585 million project.
One gathered signatures at a Martin Luther King, Jr. Day march while the other group worked social media Web sites like Facebook to get out its message.
"We are the ones who are going to have to live with it, might as well get our voice heard on it," said Zachary Barker, who started a Facebook page last month that already has more than 1,200 "friends" voicing support for the project.
"One of the big things that is really nice about Facebook is that in this group we can actually show individuals that are in favor, their picture [and] their contact information," continued the 30-something computer company executive whose offices are just a few blocks from the proposed Music City Center site south of Broadway.
"Ultimately I think it's a good risk for our city," Barker said of the financing which pays for the project with bonds backed by the Nashville's hotel-motel taxes and fees.
Not convinced were a group of Service Employee International Union (SEIU) representatives who have been voicing opposition for weeks to the convention center project.
Monday morning, they gathered signatures along Jefferson Street in north Nashville during a march remembering Dr. King.
Mark Naccarato of SEIU made a pitch to marchers that at the same time Nashville wants to build a convention center, "the council may cut back its subsidy of Metro General Hospital and our schools are in $35 million in the hole."
The signatures are for the group Nashville Priorities, which was formed last fall.
It hopes to present 10,000 signatures to the Metro Council before a vote is taken Tuesday evening.
Lawyer Kevin Sharp, who has spearheaded Nashville Priorities, said he hopes the signatures might sway council members to hold a public vote on the convention center financing instead.