Council approves convention center financing package - WKRN News 2

Council approves convention center financing package

Posted: Updated: Jan 19, 2010 08:11 PM CST

NASHVILLE, Tenn. – The Metro Council Tuesday night voted 29-9 for the financing plan for the proposed $585 million Music City Center.

The financing plan calls for the center to be paid for using the city's hotel-motel tax.

The project's top supporter, Nashville Mayor Karl Dean, has long said the center is necessary for Nashville's No. 2 industry, tourism, to continue to thrive, and will not burden the Davidson County taxpayer.

"It will be paid for by the users, that's extremely important, so this is a win for our city and this is the right time to do it because it's going to create jobs and create opportunities," he has said.

Late last week, Mayor Dean told News 2 he was not discouraged by a last minute effort for a public referendum rather than a council vote.

"The referendum, in my mind, is not necessary," he said.  "This issue has been discussed, long before I became mayor.  It was an issue in the mayoral campaign, where I think every candidate was for a new convention center, I know I certainly was."

Critics warn of the center's hefty price tag and debt the city is about to take on.

"The proposal before us includes a risk to the taxpayers and that's just unacceptable," said Councilwoman Emily Evans.  "If we finance a $600 million project plus the hotel which takes us to almost $1 billion, we're increasing our debt about 60%.  That means we're not going to be able to borrow money for other things."

The idea of a new or expanded convention center has been on Metro's table since 1999, and has been the subject of numerous studies, task forces, presentations and public meetings.

The 1.2 million-square-foot facility will sit just south of the Sommet Center in an area bordered by Demonbreun Street to the north, Korean Veterans Parkway to the south, 5th Avenue to the east and 8th Avenue to the west and replace the current convention center on Lower Broadway.

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