Sunday, January 10, 2010

No cred in selling MCC

While I have a legion of concerns about the Music City Center proposal, one aspect continues to stick out like a sore thumb to me in reflecting on last week's North Precinct public forum. In making their case on Wednesday to a group of about 100 people, MCC boosters argued that Nashville's success depends on us building on what we already do well, tourism and convention hosting, and that funding a new convention complex so builds.

But a few minutes later that same team noted that when the old convention center was built in the 1980s it was new territory. They asserted that it was a bold act that Nashville had never attempted before intended to clean up blighted Lower Broadway. They also noted that it didn't do well the first few years.

However, this second point crosses purposes with the first. The proposed Music City Center isn't bold and it isn't addressing a community quality of life problem. It won't be breaking new ground. It won't be going where no Nashvillian has ever gone before.

The proposal is conservative and conventional. Even the proposed green roof capping the box is optional. Boosters tell us the revenues will eventually trickle down to the community, but its main purpose is to line the pockets local industry and to keep politicians in power.

If MCC were a bolder, more inclusive proposal that spread dividends around widely and more evenly then I would be inclined to support it. But the very contradiction of building on what we've done best as opposed to doing something new and unpredictable is a reason why MCC is hurting for credibility.

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