NASHVILLE, Tenn. (WKRN) — After years of controversy, some Nashville party bus companies are moving out of the downtown core. The city’s growth and regulations on entertainment vehicles are playing a big part in party buses venturing out of downtown Nashville, but some say that’s not enough.
While riding a tractor down Murfreesboro Pike past the Drake Motel and public housing may not be what the tourists have in mind, the owner of The Nashville Tractor said it’s the route they have chosen to take by moving their operations to South Nashville.
“We moved out to Fesslers for the sole purpose of unclogging downtown Nashville,” owner Michael Winters explained.
After years of picking up customers at a bar on 2nd Avenue, a lot off Fesslers Lane is now home for The Nashville Tractor. In turn the party rolls down Murfreesboro Pike past the Drake Motel and public housing.
“It’s painful, I mean it’s not what the customer wants. The customers would prefer to be picked up on Broadway and go up and down on Broadway. I mean if they had their druthers they want to stay where the lights are,” said Winters.
While they do ultimately take customers to the neon lights on Lower Broad, Winters said it’s not uncommon to see one of their entertainment vehicles off the beaten path.
“People see it coming down certain roads and they think what are they doing here? What they don’t understand is we are actually trying to help the problem of the downtown core area by moving our operations out,” said Winters. “It’s not that we want to party on McGavock Pike or Midtown or the Gulch for that matter. There’s a lot of places we don’t want to go, because the tourists that’s not what they are looking for.”
Winters said it’s a move several other entertainment vehicle companies have done as well.
“Sprocket Rocket moved their pickup and drop off location to Lafayette, Honky Tonk Party Express…moved about a mile from where we are sitting so a lot of the players that have been around for quite some time are trying to do their best to be good corporate citizens,” he said. “But you also have to understand we operate vehicles that are 40 to 60 feet long so there’s the issue of the large vehicle and there’s loading and unloading and all that stuff so finding a piece of property is much harder than it sounds.”
While the efforts are appreciated by those like Safe Fun Nashville, a coalition of downtown residents, business owners and community members fighting to regulate Nashville’s party on wheels, they say moving operations still doesn’t resolve the noise and traffic issues caused by the party vehicles.
“They serve absolutely no value to the citizens of Nashville. What these folks have done without any regard for their neighbors downtown is they’ve brought the noise, the screaming etcetera, the drunkenness from lower Broadway, which I have no problem with people doing that down there where there are bars, but taking it blocks away and sharing it with everybody else who did not move in there with that as part of it. There’s total disregard from the party buses on the rights for others,” Jim Schmitz co-organizer of Safe Fun Nashville told News 2.
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Schmitz added that he hopes the former councilman of the downtown district and now Mayor-elect Freddie O’Connell will help in further regulating party vehicles holding true to his campaign of “more ‘ville and less Vegas.”