CMA Awards expected to bring $3M in economic impact

Friday, November 12, 2010 at 2:02pm

Last week was the three-year anniversary of the Writers Guild of America’s infamous strike, when television, radio and film writers put down their pens demand a larger cut of studios’ profits. The 100-day strike meant the cancellation of the Golden Globe Awards and engendered loads of (what turned out to be wrongheaded) speculation that the Oscars would also meet the scrap heap.

If it seemed like the bluster was little more than elitists complaining about rich-people problems, well, you’re forgiven. But it left a real-life blemish, too. According to Jack Kyser, the recently retired former chief economist for the Los Angeles County Economic Development Corp., missing the Golden Globes that year meant that some $70 to $80 million in local spending simply didn’t happen.

There was never any doubt that the 44th annual CMA Awards would unfurl from the black carpet rolled out before Bridgestone Arena last Wednesday. And when they did, bringing Nashville’s celebrity out of hiding for an evening in the mainstream sun, so too came a nice pile of coin.

According to the Convention and Visitors Bureau, the CMAs generated an estimated $3 million in direct visitor spending, which is bureau-speak for hotels, meals, booze, cab rides, rental cars, country-music swag on Lower Broad, and so forth. Add to that the cost of production, photography, sound — and everything else that made Brad Paisley and Carrie Underwood sparkle under the lights Wednesday night — and you have plenty of pockets full of cash.

In money talk, the awards are worth only about one-eighth of the CMA Music Fest. Nashville’s biggest event draws an estimated $24 million in economic impact — still no rival to Hollywood, but then again, not much is.

“The CMA Awards are priceless in terms of the exposure, financial benefit and brand identity they bring to our city,” said CVB president Butch Spyridon.

Indeed, there’s no way to know how much money local purveyors might make off things like “brand identity.” But when you see a woman who’s traveled from Ireland and camped out all day at Fifth and Broadway just to ask for Keith Urban’s autograph, you begin to get the idea.