Fair board opts against parking fee for September's state fair

Friday, July 8, 2011 at 12:37pm

The fair board found itself in another sticky position Friday before it ultimately opted against instituting a parking fee for the 2011 Tennessee State Fair, which would have jeopardized the interest of the group running the event just two months before it begins in September.

The Metro Board of Fair Commissioners in June awarded a lease to run the upcoming fair to a non-profit group of state political and agriculture leaders known as the Tennessee State Fair Association. The organization is paying the city $50,000, plus $1 dollar for every ticket sold over 50,000. 

Still unclear had been whether the fair board would apply a $5 parking fee to those attending the September event, which would supply the fair board much-needed revenue. Since July 1, the fairgrounds staff has been charging a fee for other events.

But the association didn’t sign its contract with the understanding that the fee would apply to the fair. They worried an additional expense for patrons would result in fewer people attending the event. In the end, the board sided with the association.

“We owe it to the city and the citizens to do our best to make sure that there is a fair,” fair commissioner Charles Sueing said. “I don’t want to see that not happen because we got hung up on some contract negotiations.”

The board’s vote went against the request of state fair Executive Director Buck Dozier, who said the fairgrounds needed the parking fee revenue to make the property financially stable.

“To do that, you need to be realistic,” Dozier told the board prior to its vote. “I’m sure we can find some event in town that doesn’t have parking fees, but not many.

“To put this place on a sound financial basis, and not play games anymore out here like we’ve done for so many years, that is the reason for us to implement this,” he said.

But John Rose, who chairs the Tennessee State Fair Association, said his group had conducted research that suggested charging for parking would be a deterrent to attendance.

Every dollar charged to visitors for parking would reduce the state fair attendance by 5,000 people, he said, which would put the association back to the “drawing board” in determining whether the state fair could be viable. 

“We concluded we were better off not to not nickel and dime our potential customers with a parking charge, then a gate charge, then a ride charge” Rose said.

9 Comments on this post:

By: bfra on 7/8/11 at 2:30

In other words, anything to keep the Fairgrounds from showing a profit! Karl's goons at work!

By: boyer barner on 7/8/11 at 5:56

I've always thought that Monday thru Friday, the fairgrounds parking lot could be used to alleviate parking for downtown workers.

MTA could pick riders up and make a quick run downtown to drop them off.

It would save folks money for parking as well as a lot of headaches from battling morning and afternoon traffic downtown.

It would also tie into Dean's goal of increasing the use of mass transit in Nashville.

The fairgrounds and MTA could work out a deal: parking and a ride for $2.00. Such a good deal could likely get enough folks to park at the fairgrounds, that MTA and the fairgrounds would make some money.

At hard-rail trolley line would be another option for the route from the fairgrounds to downtown. On the weekend, the same hard-rail trolley could carry tourists to events like the flea market (or concerts).

By: govskeptic on 7/10/11 at 6:56

The Fair Board started with suggesting $5.00 per car then dropped it to nothing.
A one or two dollar fee would have been reasonable and should have passed
the muster of the board. I think it's two dollars for flea market, surely the public
would have expected to pay at least that much for the fair. Crazy meets crazy!

By: bfra on 7/10/11 at 9:44

Karl's peons can't let the Fair show too much success! I can't remember ever going to the Fair when there wasn't a charge for parking.

By: las04 on 7/10/11 at 12:31

The writing is on the wall people WAKE UP....Karl Dean wants the fairgrounds to fail. His cronies aren't man or woman enough to stand up to his sorry, scum bag, back stabbing ass. I pray that I will one day come face to face with him....!!

By: SouthNashvillian on 7/12/11 at 4:14

MAN make up your minds, people! You b*tch when they instituted the $5 parking for races, now your b*tching that they're NOT charging for parking for the fair? It sounds to me like the fair board can't win with you people no matter what they do.

By: lookfor125 on 7/12/11 at 11:40

Boyer,you have a absolutely great idea on using the Fairgrounds, as a way to help allievate parking problems down town...Wow,now to the issue at hand..It kills me when this arguement is put forth,"well,other venues in Nashville charge for parking"..Ive been going to the races for nearly 40 years,and there's never been a parking fee required..THIS IS A GOOD THING PEOPLE,Have we not forgot,the Fairgrounds, is public property that symbolizes & champions that working class venue...Say,you really support social services for the residents of Metro,but does a low cost night on the town for a working class family,not count.. The parking fee's negatively impacts attendence numbers,and will continue to do so..Hey,I might have just answered my own question concerning the Un-Fair-Board~

By: Barbi on 7/13/11 at 2:35

SouthNashvillian, I personally have a problem with the board charging 5 dollars a car to those attending the races, but charging nothing for fair-goers. It's not fair. The 5 dollar parking fee for the race makes it that much harder for someone like myself to attend races, (by the way, races happen much more frequently than the fair), yet they are concerned charging for parking during the fair will cause a loss in fair business. Sounds like they are adding the parking fee on race days to try and kill off race attendance so that someone can say that the track isn't worth keeping. If it is necessary to charge for parking than why not make it 2 dollars regardless of the event. Every dollar makes a difference, whether you are the payer or the one on the receiving end; in order to be on the receiving end you have to be affordable for the potential payer. Going from parking for free to suddenly having to pay 5 dollars is a steep jump, it is easier to dig up 2 dollars than it is 5. I think most attending the fair would not be opposed to a 2 dollar fee, but the 5 dollar fee that race attendees are having to pay hurts.

By: RJP on 7/19/11 at 12:08

rjp Two dollars a car what a deal to not have to walk ,and the ones that don't have an extra two dollars can drop the family off at the gate, and would be glad to walk.Just set the price for every event and leave it alone.But free works for me.Lets have a safe and fun time. Hope to see the mayor there.And you to sandra moore it is in your district or not!