By The Tennessean, Nashville
Welcome to the next tier, Nashville. The long-anticipated Music City Center has opened and takes a place alongside the other “houses” – from the Ryman Auditorium to Jubilee Hall to the Capitol perched on a hill – that make this city unique.
And thanks to Music City Center, millions more people will get to know Nashville firsthand. Massive conventions and trade shows that formerly had to pass up this special destination en route to Atlanta, New Orleans or Orlando now have a big venue to match the city’s big heart.
Music City Center’s numbers are staggering: 1.2 million square feet of public space, a building reaching 150 feet tall, covering six city blocks and, yes, a price tag of $585 million – worth every penny.
If Music City Center were to be measured only by sheer boost of out-of-town visitors (829,000 future hotel room nights have already been booked; add those to the 625,000 rooms booked for Gaylord Opryland during the same period), that alone brings Nashville into a new, if competitive, metropolitan club.
It may be unfamiliar ground for traditionalists, but it promises the best possible future for Nashville. Without economic drivers like Gaylord Opryland and now Music City Center, Nashville’s priceless treasures with origins in the 19th and 20th centuries probably would languish in the 21st.
Nashville is growing, fast. Undoubtedly, there are easier ways to appeal to out-of-town visitors for short-term gains. But Nashville’s leaders have signaled our city wants to do this the right way.
All of these changes will aid Nashvillians in their daily lives as well as make the city more attractive to guests. Music City Center will be the hub of what is new about Nashville while keeping the past alive.