Republicans, Craddock say vote 'yes' on fairgrounds referendum

Tuesday, July 12, 2011 at 2:39pm

The Davidson County Republican Party is zeroing in on the upcoming referendum to decide whether to keep the status quo at the Tennessee State Fairgrounds, with party officials Tuesday announcing recent straw poll results that indicate 93 percent of participants support its preservation.

“That’s what’s going to bring these people out to vote,” Davidson County Republican Party chair Kathleen Starnes said. “Our conservative people want to save the fairgrounds.”

Party officials conducted the poll at last Saturday’s party picnic held at Centennial Park. An estimated 250 Republicans were in attendance, with more than 200 taking part in the straw poll, Starnes said.

Metro’s early voting begins July 15 and Election Day is on Aug. 4. Several council candidates — both at-large and district — are running on pro-fairgrounds platforms.

With Mayor Karl Dean lacking a formidable opponent, many Nashvillians consider the fairgrounds referendum the most intriguing draw. The referendum seeks to amend the Metro Charter to keep all existing uses intact on the 117-acre property.

Because voting is just days away, it’s seems likely Dean — who supports redevelopment of the fairgrounds — doesn’t plan to wage a “No” campaign to defeat the proposed amendment. 

On Tuesday, a well-crafted video narrated by Metro Councilman Michael Craddock also surfaced. In it, the term-limited councilman appeals to the preservation of the fairgrounds. Craddock, a pro-fairgrounds favorite who pulled out of the mayor’s race at the last moment, begins the 7-minute video addressing a small crowd:

“I want to talk to you today about the history of the Tennessee State Fairgrounds,” Craddock begins. “Because we have a mayor that’s trying to destroy it. And on Aug. 4, we’re going to be faced with a decision to vote ‘yes’ for the fairgrounds or ‘no’ for the fairgrounds.”

The video has some connection to the Republican Party, but not a financial one. Starnes said the county’s Republican party did not pay for the video; rather, one of the party’s supporters paid for it out of his own pocket.

“He’s a friend of ours, yeah,” Starnes said. “It was just an idea that we had, and this guy jumped up and said, ‘I’ll do it.’ ” 

67 Comments on this post:

By: boyer barner on 7/14/11 at 11:41

Please explain the "logistical reasons" why it would never be financially sustainable.

By: boyer barner on 7/14/11 at 11:48


With a long-term contract on the track, there are parties willing to invest several million in the track. Are you aware of this fact?

By: BigPapa on 7/14/11 at 1:04

There are also companies willing to develop that 117 acres and benefit many many more people that the few scattered drivers and couple hundred fans that show up there.
The track is a cause of the blight in that area, not a help, therefore it needs to go. Nobody in their right mind would have a racetrack in the middle of town.

By: SouthNashvillian on 7/14/11 at 1:14

Careful, ds....don't go implying that our neighborhood (Wedgewood-Houston) is worthy of any such improvements. It's just somewhere the out of town racing community can come and dump their noise and trash then head back to Williamson County. "It's a dump" anyway, right?

As far "the noise being a non-issue" now that a muffler rule has been instituted, there has still not been any sound monitoring done, so there are no statistics confirming this. I can tell you from my house, I don't hear much of a difference from last year. The sound monitoring was a condition of the lease on the track this year and has not been is my understanding that it is **finally** being installed this week, after how many races now??? Way to "be a good neighbor" there.

Has anyone given any thought to the fact that fairgrounds as you know them are going away, no matter what? Either a) they get bull dozed and redeveloped or b) they stay, and get renovated and improved. Let's assume the latter, you've won, you've "saved the fairgrounds." Where do you think the money to do that renovating and code-updating will come from? The fairgrounds has blown through their reserves to the point of almost zero, so that "the fairgrounds has never cost the Nashville taxpayer a dime" argument is going to fly right out the window. Once it's up to code and safety standards, to the point that it's a fairgrounds Nashville can actually be proud of (do you even KNOW how much money that would take?), next will come the higher operating costs, because well, now you have an actual NICE property, which will need upkeep, regular maintenance, etc. Where do you think those operating costs are going to be offset from? Higher renal prices for vendors, and higher parking fees & ticket prices for attendees. OR, you guessed it....higher taxes for the Nashville taxpayer.

By: bfra on 7/14/11 at 2:29

By: BigPapa on 7/14/11 at 2:04

There are also companies willing to develop that 117 acres and benefit many many more people that the few scattered drivers and couple hundred fans that show up there.



By: bfra on 7/14/11 at 2:34

SouthNashvillian & ds - Whose fault is it that you live in that area? Have you been there longer than the Fairgrounds or just dupes that didn't do your homework before moving there?

By: racer84 on 7/14/11 at 2:40

SouthNashvillian - Have another Beer.....

You're just loaded with lies and misinformation today aren't you ?

Why do you never post any links to factual information to back up your statements ?

Watch how this works.

You say....Has anyone given any thought to the fact that fairgrounds as you know them are going away, no matter what? Either a) they get bull dozed and redeveloped or b) they stay, and get renovated and improved. Let's assume the latter, you've won, you've "saved the fairgrounds." Where do you think the money to do that renovating and code-updating will come from? The fairgrounds has blown through their reserves to the point of almost zero, so that "the fairgrounds has never cost the Nashville taxpayer a dime" argument is going to fly right out the window

And then the FACTS ARE -
Taken from -

The Fair Board has the power to mortgage the property, that is, borrow as much
money as it needs to operate the State Fair and continue operations for many, many years.The Mayor has never shown anyone this “picture.” The Fair Board is the only semiautonomous part of Metro government that has the power to mortgage its property. The Mayor should have known this. He should have shown this “picture.”

Where are the Millions in Reserves (Brought in by the SPEEDWAY before the Fair Board tried to kill racing the first time) ? Where has all the money gone ?

Answer: Two things, interest and depreciation. The decline in
Investment Income (interest earned) has meant the Fair Board has lost
cash and has also meant a decline in revenue which pushed the Fair Board
toward losses. The increase in depreciation expense did not cause the
Fair Board to lose cash, but it was a substantial factor in incurring losses.
What Do See: Okay, Start With How It Lost Cash and Incurred
Losses on Interest Earned.
Answer: Let’s go back to 1999. The Fair Board had $5 million in the
bank and another $3 million in an Investment account. Its Investment
account brought a superior return -- $396,834. That cash literally went to
the Fair Board’s own cash account. Of course, it also appeared as Interest
Income which helped the Fair Board’s “bottom line,” namely a profit of
Now let’s go back to 2009. The Fair Board had $2 million in the bank
and nothing in its Investment Account! What happened? Back in 2004
Mayor (not Governor) Phil Bredesen (apparently) ordered all Investment
Accounts held by separate entities like the Fair Board to be consolidated
in one account. I have not been able to find out the fair market value of
the Investment Account that was “taken over” by Metro, but under
Metro’s “management” the Investment Account had already dropped
from $2,719,734 in 2005 to $1,892,399 in 2006. Then it “disappeared”
from Metro financial statements in 2007. (Bill Purcell was mayor.)
Supposedly, what happened is this. The consolidated account(s) were
given a new name: Metro Investment Pool.
The Metro Investment Pool is (was) invested in “government backed
securities” – some of these literally fell to zero in the Stock Market
Meltdown starting in 2007 which got worse in 2008.
It is kind of like this. You have a really smart big brother (he went to
Harvard) and he took over management of your stock portfolio. It fell
6 Transcript, Meeting of Fair Commissioners, August 3, 2010, p. 26.
like crazy – but he won’t tell you how much it fell. All you know is that
back in 1999 your portfolio paid $396,834 and in 2009 it paid you only
$35,149. This year it paid about $3,000.

What Do You See: The Fair Board’s Interest Earnings Dropped
Ninety Percent Since 1999 and its Investment Account Seems to Have
“Disappeared” in 2007 – Please Explain the Depreciation.
Answer: The rules of accounting, whether for-profit or governmental,
require accountants to make a systematic deduction each year for the fact
that things we build on land (Buildings and Improvements) and use to
make money (Equipment) are simply wearing out. This is called
Be careful. This is not the same thing as the “depreciation” you
experience when you buy a new car: One day it is “worth” what you paid
for it, the next day it is a used car and you can’t sell it for nearly what you
paid for it. Rather, this is depreciation for accounting purposes. To forprofit
businesses, it is a “nice” expense because it is a tax deduction and
does not cost the business any cash.
Many people will argue that the Fair Board should not “take” this
depreciation because it does not pay state or federal income tax
(corporation) taxes. However, the governmental accountants have their
own rules (called standards) and they rule the roost.
Let us return to 1999. The Fair Board “took” depreciation of $331,643,
which meant that Net Income was lowered by that amount. Yes, it is just
a bookkeeping entry, no cash was lost, but the “bottom line” was that
much lower. As explained, Net Income for 1999 was $184,822.
Now let us go back to 2009. The Fair Board “took” depreciation of
$418,495, which meant the “bottom line” was that much lower. It
contributed to the Net Loss that year of $977,115.
What Do You See: Okay, But Did Metro Properly Record
Depreciation or Did it Screw That Up Like it Did the Investment
Answer: Probably. I cannot determine why Metro’s Depreciation
Schedule for Year 2008, for example, said the amount of depreciation to
“take” on Fair Board buildings and improvements was $211, 911 but
when it prepared the actual financial statements the amount was
By the way, the given reason for “taking” depreciation is so that someone
looking at your Balance Sheet has some idea of how “worn out” your
Buildings, Improvements and Equipment are. Here is how to do it. Add
up the cost of those three categories. That comes to $13,349,237. Now
compare the Accumulated Depreciation: $8,119,810. That is, these
properties are 61 percent “worn out.”
What Do You See: Have You Turned Up Anything Else About How
Metro Handles Fair Board Accounts?
Answer: Yes, but I don’t know enough to find out the answers. It is the
responsibility of the Council to get answers.
I question why Metro yanks millions out of the Fair Board’s
“Undesignated Fund Balance” account – then puts it back the next day or
a month later. See if you can follow this: On June 30, 2004 it took out
two separate amounts: $1,920.823.46; $1,050,000.00. The same day, it
put in $1,950.823.46. The next day, July 1, 2004 (the beginning of the
new fiscal year) it put back in the amounts that it had taken out the day
before. Why? I wonder.
Then things got really crazy on June 30, 2007, during the last months Bill
Purcell was mayor. Metro took out of the Fair Board’s “Undesignated
Fund Balance” account the whopping amount of $4,131,846.09. Why?
Again, I wonder. It did not put the money back in the account the next
day – and the Investment Account “disappeared” that year! I suspect this
was done to make some other fund balance in some other part of Metro
look better. During the period 1999-2009 the amounts shown on financial
statements as transfers to other Metro funds were never more than $1.5
million a year. What the Metro Council needs is a print-out of an account
called “Transfer to Other Funds,” (Account No. 62507200.53100). It
should show all entries since 1999. Then the Council (or a Council
Member) should ask someone from Metro Finance (Treasurer) to come
over and explain the entries. Just put the person who explains all this
under oath.
Here is another quandry. Until 2001, the Fair Board’s financial
statements (balance sheet) said that $1,488,395 was “Contributed
Capital.” If this were a for-profit corporation, this would have been the
amount that original stockholders gave the “company” in return for their
shares of stock. It would be interesting to know how Metro came up with
that amount, which has not been shown as a separate item on the balance
sheet since 2001.
What Do You See: Isn’t Some of the Accounting Problems Because
the Fair Board’s Accountant Didn’t Tell the Board or Didn’t Record
the Amounts Properly?
Answer: The Fair Board’s accountant, Mr. Howell Townes, has given the
Board all of the financial statements it asks for and needs, but the Board
has simply ignored them. Remember, the financial statements are
prepared by Metro, not Mr. Townes. He is blameless. In fact, when I
talked to him, he explained other problems with Metro’s accounting, such
as the way Metro “overcharges” the Board with certain things, under
something called LOCAP, etc. I am leaving to others to explain the Fair
Board’s expenses. As I mentioned, Council Member Michael Craddock
has recently demanded detailed Operating Statements.
Here is an example I found looking at the Minutes. In 1996 Metro
charged the Fair Board $54,000 for the services of a part-time lawyer.
Whether it is more or less today, nobody at the Fair Board can tell you!
Metro just tells the Fair Board how much to “send” with few details on
what the amount covers. In 2010, the amount was about $177,000, if I
have read the statements properly.


There are at least a dozen other links to real numbers and facts I could post to continue to shine the light on your misinformation but lets move on to the other misinformed ranter against the track to show the pattern...The pattern that those against the track continue to misdirect, mislead, and misinform....way to be good neighbors there ;-)

BigPapa states the same thing Megan Barry has in regards to the racetrack itself - Nobody in their right mind would have a racetrack in the middle of town and a race track can't work in the middle of a city etc....

Google Bowman Gray Stadium - View the google earth images which clearly show the race track sits right directly in the city of Winston Salem, and is surrounded by homes just like the Fairgrounds Speedway. I've been there, I know the truth.

Here is the link to view it's actual location -

Now consider the FACT that Bowman Gray Stadium currently has a weekly attendance of over 25,000 people and brings in weekly revenue of over $500,000 in ticket sales, sponsorship, concessions etc.....The Nashville Fairgrounds Speedway is twice the size of Bowman Gray.

Now look up Hickory Motor Speedway....same thing as above. Same type location, same 100 year old history, same continued success.

Why are those and hundreds of other tracks scattered across the country so successful ?

Because the city leadership embraces the racing and its fans.....those are the same fans of Country Music ironically.

If you really want to know the truth as to where the millions in Fairgrounds reserve funds have gone read the link below.....More facts, More Truths.

By: boyer barner on 7/14/11 at 3:26


Thanks for that info. I have cut and pasted it into my fairgrounds folder on my computer to go with similar information that I've collected and distribute to other people wanting to have some real answers.

What I'm finding is that once people get informed on this matter, they overwhelmingly say they will vote "yes" on the issue.

There is another growing contingency of pro-fairgrounds people that includes people involved in our automotive industry. They want to utilize the track for testing and showcasing their cars. They also see the value in having a place to showcase cars and products (this group includes major manufacturers as well as regional vendors who design and supply parts to Nissan, Toyota, etc.).

The fact is, a lot of pro-raceway people are beginning to come out from under the woodwork this issue. And it's not just racers. Like I said, it's people involved in the automotive industry.

It's obvious the naysayers out there have little to offer, nor little vision.

By: fair_minded on 7/14/11 at 3:40

"Nobody in their right mind would have a racetrack in the middle of town."

gosh, don't let the folks in Milwaukee or Indianapolis hear you say that! ... both of those prominent and very successful tracts are smack in the middle of residential neighborhoods and almost in the center of town! And like our fairgrounds, have been there for over 100 years.

By: Nitzche on 7/14/11 at 5:19

I vote to turn nashville into a greenway...all of is killing this city , we need solar,green, non-income producing a vote for the fairgrounds is a vote for global warming!

By: boyer barner on 7/14/11 at 9:19


I think you need a cup of coffee.

By: macjedi on 7/15/11 at 8:17

1000s of people from 1000s of areas can go 1000s of places that are not massive in size and only 4mi from downtown. We can put that sort of site anywhere.

The 12th south comparison only adds to my point. When people stopped crying about a new development here, and a re-zoning there, and LET something worth doing/seeing/eating/buying move in (other than the music stores over there which we ALWAYS one of 12th's best gems) things improved. Thanks for helping make my point.

Oh, and comparing that sh*thole to Milwaukee and Indy is a JOKE, btw. They never GAVE UP on it. We, on the other hand, SAILED THIS SHIP A LONG TIME AGO when the Superspeedway opened. The point is moot. Waste of space. Racing is dead on the vine there. Move it if you insist, but THAT SITE can have better uses. Heaven forbid the mayor actually try to improve the cityscape.

Every time people like many of whine and cry about a mayor's big evil plans to improve the city, we all come out with nicer things (2nd ave, Shelby bridge, the list goes on and on...) Every time those things came up, they were fought tooth and nail only to be later appreciated by pretty much everyone.

Racing is not appreciated by everyone, and almost historically indefensible. I stick to my analogy of an 8ft circle of Opry stage and a patch of track. Save a scrap for those who care and tear the damn thing down.

By: jimmie on 7/15/11 at 9:54


So we should listen to a Guy who thinks racing is bad but thinks he's fighting intergalactic warriors behind his keyboard!

Get out of you mommies basement sometime.

May the force be shoved up your nose

By: boyer barner on 7/15/11 at 11:45


The Super Speedway is likely reverting to a test-track.

The auto-industry power-hitters are lining up to invest in the fairgrounds raceway. Nissan, VW and GM want a place for R&D, testing and show-casing hybrid and electric vehicles.

Mike Curb and Big Machine Records are on board as sponsors (these are NASCAR guys).

The mufflers make noise a non-issue.

You are on the wrong side of history.

Go back to bed.

By: macjedi on 7/16/11 at 10:42

HAHAAHAAAA! Wow. I'll just let screen-name insults and poor sentence structure lie as they are - filler for people with nothing to contribute and no real resume to speak on the matter.

As for history... make it elsewhere. The site is too central to be propped up any longer. This was a moot point a long time ago.

By: slim4520 on 7/19/11 at 1:56

The Fairgrounds debate has never been a Democrat or Republican issue. Republicans by their very definition are believers in free and open markets, and the idea of compelling the city to provide land for specific PRIVATE enterprises is not in that philosophy. As Phil Valentine says, "Government should do what government is good at, and the free market should do what the free market is good at". These so-called Republicans need to go back and check their party's owner's manual and stop using the Fairgrounds as an excuse to cozy up to the SMF constituency. Another commenter said this type of behavior is what distanced him from the GOP, and I agree.

By: macjedi on 7/20/11 at 1:34

Amending the founding documents of this city for just one site's protection is the wrong choice!