In a move that drew opposition from Mayor John Cooper and Democratic leaders, three prominent Tennessee business and finance officials join Nashville’s convention center authorities to oversee downtown tourism investment and growth. Became.
Gov. Bill Lee signed Senate Bill 648 on May 11, removing State Comptroller Jason E. Manpower, State Treasurer David H. Lillard Jr., and Secretary of State Tre Hargett from ex-officio. Appointed as a voting member. He will join the existing nine-member board of directors appointed by Cooper.
Music City Center president and CEO Charles Starks said the convention center is in the process of scheduling meetings with newcomers.
“I know all three are highly regarded in their respective fields, as are our existing board members,” Starks said. “You have to believe there’s a learning curve with them and us. I think that makes the discussions richer and the decisions that we make. But when it comes to the value we bring. I think there is no question.”
The Convention Center Administration was established under the oversight of the Mayor of Nashville to manage the development and operations of the Music City Center and related investments and projects. The 2.1 million-square-foot convention center is a tourism giant who collected $150 million in downtown hospitality taxes this year. Although many of these funds are needed for operation, maintenance and expansion, Metro Nashville has sought more general operational support from the foundation in recent years.
This board change came amid a series of controversies between state Republicans and Democrats, especially in Nashville.
Lee signed House Bill 1197 last week to reorganize the Metropolitan Sports Authority’s board of directors, which oversees Nissan Stadium, Bridgestone Arena and other major sports venues. The mayor of Nashville will now appoint seven of the 13-member board, and state officials will appoint six. The Governor, Speaker of the House, and Speaker of the Senate are each appointed twice.
Bills affecting the Sports Authority and the Convention Center Authority shall take immediate effect in accordance with the law.
A bill that would give the state a majority of the board appointments for the Nashville and Davidson County Metropolitan Airport Authority has not yet been signed by the governor but has legislative support. The bill would create a new eight-member Board of Governors, the Speaker of the House, the Speaker of the Senate, and the Mayor, each with two appointments.
State leaders said they expect increased investment in Nashville International Airport and other downtown venues, including a new NFL stadium that received $500 million in state bond funding.
House sponsor Rep. Johnny Garrett (R-Goodlettsville) said at a hearing in April that support for the airport bill was based on increased state investment in the facility.
“The state sees this as an important investment for the state,” Garrett said. “This has become an authority funded by all Tennessees across the state. It’s important that they have a say in how they manage.”
Unlike the airport and sports authorities, the Mayor of Nashville retains all executive appointments for the Convention Center Administration. However, new non-voting members will continue to wield influence.
Manpower has been the state comptroller since 2021 and previously represented Sullivan and Johnson counties in the state House of Representatives. Lillard has been state treasurer since 2009, and Hargett has been Tennessee’s secretary of state for 14 years.
Appointees can designate delegates to attend meetings on their behalf.
Each Board member brings a unique expertise to the Group, including legal, financial, leadership and hospitality skills.
The Convention Center Authority oversees favorable tourist taxes and supports Omni Hotels and other hospitality industry necessities.
“Most of the money we get is from the state, so it’s good to have three people on the board to help them understand how we invest and spend our money. I think,” Starks said, expanding with the rise of Nashville’s tourism star, who added he was eager to study.
“Were it not for the coronavirus outbreak, we would have done the investigation and completed the expansion.
Sandy Mazza can be reached by email at firstname.lastname@example.org, by phone at 615-726-5962, or on Twitter @SandyMazza.