Wednesday, January 13, 2010

Music City's Brand = CREATIVITY - So why is the MCC idea so lame?

MCC boosters have spent a lot of time and energy talking about the “Music City” Brand, without talking about what that brand represents. In our opinion, that brand is defined by Creativity – it starts with music, but the visual, performing and media artists in our city are world-class.

So how did these proponents of the "Music City Brand" come up with such an un-creative, worn-out solution? It would appear that they never explored other ways to boost tourism besides an enormous downtown convention center that will benefit a tiny minority of (and very few, if any, minority) citizens. Instead of placing one huge bet on the MCC, how about a bunch of smaller bets that will help the rest of the county?

Since Nashville's Priorities has done all the other work that MCC boosters and the Mayor should have done, let us provide some creative solutions that will grow tourism:

  • Properly fund all of our attractions – from the Adventure Science Center to the Nashville Zoo
  • Focus on creating more events – Country Music Marathon, Music City Bowl, CMA Week ring a bell?
  • Re-visit the Plan of Nashvillehundreds of Nashville believers gave the city their best ideas – let’s use them! Hmm -- the link seems dead: coincidence? it's like they didn't want people digging around in that...
  • Consider more legalized gambling – hey, I didn’t say creative wouldn’t be controversial
  • Work more closely with colleges and universities edu-tourism, anyone?
  • The Music Row Creative Development Zone – with tourist features so they can learn about famous Music Row instead of driving slowly and aimlessly down 16th Avenue trying to see what all the fuss is about.
  • The Arts Tour – Frist, Van Vechten, Cheekwood, Arcade galleries, Alan Lequire's studio, and the list goes on.
  • Realize Jefferson Street’s Tourism Potential – civil rights, American music, cultural authenticity -- all perennially neglected by the city.
  • A Family-Friendly Corridor off 8th Avenue – connect Ft. Negley, Greer Stadium, Adventure Science Center
  • Leverage Nashville’s appeal to history, environment and healthcare
  • Complete Riverfront development - on both sides of the river
  • Develop Opryland 2.0 – that’ll shut ‘em up about an amusement park
  • Develop an easy-to-use, convenient transportation system – now, this one is big-ticket, but also benefits all of Nashville.

A brilliant, creative community deserves abundant, creative solutions to its problems, not a tired old idea that hasn’t worked out from coast to coast. Tell your Council Members you’re against this – the fat lady has yet to take the stage, and she’s still in the wings until we the people make our voices loud enough for her to sing “our” song. (Did I push the metaphor too far? Sorry…)

Thursday, January 7, 2010

The Convention Business Is Dying - Why Bother?

The Music City Center will force Nashville taxpayers to invest hugely in a dying industry. The mayor's own consultants wrote in their 2008 white paper "Convention Centers: Is the Industry Overbuilt?":
...the supply of convention centers now exceeds the demand for such facilities nationally... There is not enough business to go around.
And this is from 2008, before the US economy took a 30% haircut -- clearly, the situation is worse now than 18 months ago.

The chart explains it all: Demand (green) is down; Supply (red) is up -- way up. If you recall Econ 101, that means prices for the supply will go down. In the case of the MCC, we know for a fact that there are major convention centers under construction right now that will increase that supply. And even if the economy recovers to 2007 levels, there will still be more convention space than convention-goers.

This enormous gap in supply and demand will only get worse because of a perfect storm of three social trends:
  • Sustainability -- the carbon footprint of a convention and its attendees is astonishing. Imagine 3,000 people traveling to Nashville for a national convention. According to the TerraPass carbon footprint calculator, it's 2.84 million pounds of CO2 (over 660,000 cubic meters, which is a football field-size cube over 120 feet deep.)
  • Technology -- USA Today featured an article recently on virtual trade shows, and there's a tech buzz around the possibilities of immersive, 3-D computer displays. The meteoric rise of virtual meeting spaces and online collaboration tools give most companies a much more cost-effective business-development opportunity.
  • Corporate Spending -- in a new era of cost-cutting and cash conservation, traditional conventions are on the chopping block. Companies are realizing that for many purposes, conventions and trade shows do not deliver the return on investment they need.
So why is the mayor so intent on building the MCC? Conventions are a dying business, and there is no reason to gamble a billion dollars (and yes, folks, it WILL be a billion before this thing is over) on this losing proposition. The MCC Coalition has done a fine job finding a solution for a 1999 problem, but we live in a different world now.

There are a few things you can do to help stop this train-wreck:
- sign the online petition and make your voice heard in opposition to this terrible business deal.
- come to the public meetings - 1/11 is the big one at the courthouse, and there are more dates posted at our website.
- call your council members and the mayor's office.

Wednesday, January 6, 2010

Upon Further Review...

... We are against the Music City Center!

When Nashville's Priorities started out, our mission was to find and publicize the facts about the proposed Music City Center. Despite the disinformation of MCC proponents, NP was NOT originally against the MCC, just desperately seeking facts and information (btw, the administration has yet to deliver anything resembling reliable, factual data).

Well, after much research, we reached the inescapable conclusion that THIS IS A BAD DEAL FOR NASHVILLE. Now, that may strike some gentle readers as a "Duh!" moment, but we have scrupulously tried to avoid establishing a position until we had exhausted every logical approach to try to make sense of this project.

Perhaps engaging logic and rational thought was a mistake, because the facts of this deal will make your head explode. Especially since pro-MCC forces (who are paid handsomely for their personal attacks, intimidation and disinformation) are relying on their loud, steady, hackneyed drumbeat of civic cheerleading to drown out thoughtful, civil discourse.

But this is not a done deal -- contact your council members and the mayor and let them know that when they finally do the math, the numbers will not add up for Nashville. And as the grafitti on a wall in Pompeii said "non illegitimati carborundum est"!