I agree [the risk to other Metro services is] the downside of [building a new convention center]. But it's not the thing you go out there and tell people.
--Music City Center chair Ron Samuels in 2009
Despite our red-flag-waving common sense that projected costs for capital projects have a tendency to be low-balled for the sake of selling those projects to a reluctant audience, those of us who questioned Mayor Karl Dean's plan to embark on the largest capital project in Nashville history were scolded for our "negativism". I'm wondering whether Ron Samuels thinks now that it is okay to talk about skyrocketing expenses:
The cost to run the Music City Center in its first fiscal year of operation will be about $4 million more than previously projected, according to a budget approved by Convention Center Authority members on Thursday.
The increase is linked to the expected doubling of the Music City Center’s projected utility bill, which is estimated to total $5.3 million from July 2013 to June 2014. The authority had been working under the assumption that it would pay about $2.5 million in utilities in that one-year period, based on a demand and feasibility study of the Music City Center project generated by hospitality consulting firm HVS in 2010 ....
The variance exists because the HVS study was conducted around a building that had not yet been built, said Nashville Convention Center Executive Director Charles Starks, while the more recent number includes newer estimates from Nashville Electric Service and District Electric Service using more accurate information about the 1.2 million-square-foot building.
Remarkable that unflinching MCC spokesperson Holly McCall was not trotted out again to point fingers at Metro Council (and the constituents whom they represent) for the latest bad news. The traction to that rationalization must be missing.
The revenues to meet these obligations have to come from somewhere, and I doubt the bigshots in the tourism industry are going to take up a collection among themselves to bridge the gap between fairy tale and balance sheet. Besides, they have future election campaigns to finance.
Nashville broke ground on this big box and we bought it. And those of us who were realistic and didn't lose ourselves in the wet dreams of Music City Center boosters were right. Now we can only hope and pray that their fantasies will not continue to endanger the General Fund paying for most of what the people who actually live here enjoy.