NASHVILLE, Tenn. (WKRN) – Just when we thought things couldn’t get worse, they did.
Three months ago, Nashville was facing a $2 billion loss in visitor spending due to the coronavirus pandemic. Tuesday, a grim update from the Nashville Convention and Visitors Corporation, as our deficit deepened to $4 billion.
Butch Spyridon, the corporation’s president, says convention cancellations for 2021 are already piling up. He adds ten percent of business has already been lost.
“The last two weeks we’ve seen a reduction or retraction in the momentum we’ve had now we have to start it again,” Spyridon said. “[It goes from] little hope, no hope, a little progress, less progress, a major step forward, two steps back and every week is different than the week before, every day is different.”
Spyridon fears the rollercoaster ride may not be over until mid-March when the SEC Men’s Basketball Tournament comes to town.
“They’re hanging on, we’re hanging on; everyone wants to do it and we also feel we can do it smarter with a few less fans,” Spyridon said.
The decision followed concerns about possible exposure to the spread of the coronavirus.
It was one of the first cancellations in Nashville, but it certainly wouldn’t be the last.
“It’s where this all started,” Spyridon said. “Now, it may be ironic, in a good way, that we start our recovery with the SEC Tournament.
However, before we move into a period of recovery we’ll have to deal with lost business and even more canceled events.
“I think by late December we’ll have a good read as to how deep 2021 cancelations will go,” Spyridon said. Once a vaccine is distributed we think that will ease the tension on convention cancelations.”
Eased, but not easy and not over.
“We need to be careful right now to get through the winter,” Spyridon said. “Better days are ahead.”
Spyridon hopes to kick 2020 to the curb with a New Year’s celebration in Nashville but adds it will be far from normal.
In years past, New Year’s visitor spending brought in anywhere between five to ten million dollars, this year we won’t see that.
“Because everything changes daily, our plans continue to change, you know, the only thing we know for sure is we’re not doing a major concert, we’re not gonna have 50,000; 100,00; 500,000 people, we’re trying to figure out, can we do something safe and symbolic as we kick 2020 to the curb.”
News 2 asked Spyridon if Nashvillians can expect fireworks he says it’s ‘to be determined’ but he hopes some sort of show happens.
News 2 is reporting on Nashville’s historic growth and the growing pains that come with it. Click here for more Nashville 2020 reports.