Convention center consultant disputes criticisms of study

Tuesday, January 19, 2010 at 5:59pm

Responding to a pack of Metro Council members who have attacked the credibility of a Music City Center feasibility study conducted by HVS consulting, the firm’s managing director is on the defensive, arguing that claims against his firm have been based on “incomplete and misleading information.” 

In a letter sent to council members Monday, Tom Hazinski — who has fielded a barrage of questions from council members skeptical of the financing plan for a proposed $585 million center — wrote, “the dialogue between us has evolved from what was initially a discussion of our study report to one about the qualifications of HVS and the quality of our work.”  

“While we understand that our qualifications are an important factor in assessing the reliability of our analysis, we have become concerned about the tone of this conversation and the direct attacks on our credibility on the part of some members of the Metro Council,” Hazinski continued. 

Hazinski is the key contributor to a study commissioned by Metro government and used by Mayor Karl Dean as supporting evidence for the financial soundness and economic impact of a new 1.2 million-square-foot convention center in downtown Nashville. 

Hazinski has found himself on the hot seat during recent council appearances, appearing uncomfortable at times as council skeptics — led by Mike Jameson, Emily Evans and Eric Crafton — questioned the report’s credibility. 

During last week’s joint committee meetings, Jameson pointed out that studies on convention centers in Dallas, Kansas City and San Antonio all happen to forecast the same number of delegates: 911,360.

At the meeting, Hazinski said he didn’t have anything to do with those particular reports. 

“Immediately following the meeting, I contacted the authors of (the Dallas report) to inquire about these so called errors,” Hazinski wrote in Monday’s letter. “Their response was that the computer glitch that caused the errors was noticed immediately and corrected long ago.”

During the same committee meeting, Evans took members through a slideshow presentation that showed HVS hotel-room-night projections for a convention center in Overland Park, Kan., fell well short of actual figures tabulated by that city’s convention center and visitors bureau.

At the meeting, Hazinski said the comparison is not valid, as HVS compiles its projections differently than the CVB counts its room nights.

“I subsequently called the director of the Overland Park CVB and the manager of the Overland Park Convention Center and confirmed that the only publicly available numbers on room nights are in fact the CVB numbers, and that the CVB numbers are only a subset of what HVS had forecast,” Hazinski wrote.


7 Comments on this post:

By: dnewton on 1/19/10 at 7:27

The way I remember the Overland Park Convention Center deal was that they rejected the consultants advice and built a smaller convention center. The Convention Center was alleged to do well in its first year but when I tried to look up the following years performance, It was hard slogging. I did not see a lot of bragging.

By: Dragon on 1/19/10 at 11:47

As Hazinski stated previously, they do not compare their estimates with actual results. Their credibility is therefore not based on past performance but only on how well they can sell their services. Have they ever been accurate in the past?

By: Kosh III on 1/20/10 at 8:00

Why does he care? He sold his services to a client by telling them what they wanted to hear. Now he can take his fat paycheck and go con someone else.

By: govskeptic on 1/20/10 at 8:12

How do you defend "Cut and paste" reports that people depend on for
information? Especially if you don't go back to previous made
studies to see how your "PROJECTIONS"/guesses worked out.

By: JeffF on 1/20/10 at 9:03

With last nights vote the CVB will now change its accounting and benchmarking to make any comparisons to prior performance and to predicted performance by HVS impossible. This is the modus operandi of the industry once they get a facility, make it impossible to be held accountable for political promises.

The cities that have had news breaks regarding their new center's failure to meet expectations or even achieve parity with their old facility have the benefit of news organizations willing to do the number crunching themselves. Seeing as how the Tennessean apparently has a vested interest in the convention center there is little hope that they will do the leg work.

So when attendance goes down or only rises a couple of percentage points, be prepared to hear "we do not count attendees like we did before". When the number of meetings does the same thing you will hear "we no longer count events like we did before". When hotel nights decline "we count rooms differently than the consultant did". This is all playing out in Raleigh and Overland Park and countless other cities being original and preserving their "brand" by doing the exact same thing as every other city.

By: producer2 on 1/20/10 at 11:14

So now it is the Tennesseans fault? You prove once again that you need only a sliver of light to concoct your twists on the truth. In fact many Council Members last night said over and over again that they went outside of the HVS study and consulted with a variety of independent industry analysts to gain the information they needed to make their decision on how to vote on this project. Just to recap 29 -9 - 1.

By: govskeptic on 1/20/10 at 4:05

Council members ask "independent industry analysts", what a crock!
95% would not even know the meaning and certainly couldn't
understand anything they were told. Of course, they want us to think
they are so well informed. That's where producer2's talent come
into play. He and the other supporters along with the Tennessean
explained to those members what they needed to say to the TV
cameras. 29 backslappers, 9 informed, 1 conflict, and 1 AWOL.