Gaylord CEO Colin Reed has sent a letter to Nashville Area Chamber of Commerce officials expressing “concern” about the value the company is getting from the organization, and chamber leaders are interpreting that as notice that the entertainment giant doesn’t intend to renew its membership.
The development comes less than a week before the Metro Council is scheduled to vote on funding for a new convention center that would compete with Gaylord Opryland.
“We have been notified that Gaylord does not intend to renew their membership,” chamber public relations manager Stephanie Pepper told The City Paper.
Gaylord spokesman Tom Ingram characterized that assessment as premature, saying that the publicly held company so far has simply failed to pay its annual $20,000 membership dues. Ingram said the bill’s arrival last week led Gaylord CEO Colin Reed to send a letter to chamber president Ralph Schulz, expressing “concern about the value that they [Gaylord] are getting from their chamber membership.”
Gaylord –– which manages the Gaylord Opryland Hotel & Convention Center –– is a presumed opponent of the proposed $585 million convention center, having donated $8,500 to Nashville’s Priorities, a citizen-led group lobbying to defeat the project. In fact, the contribution led vocal convention center proponent and local restaurateur Randy Rayburn to characterize Reed during a recent public forum as the “Oz of Nashville.”
Meanwhile, Schulz, who could not be reached for this story, is one of the project’s leading supporters.
Ingram said the membership kerfuffle is unrelated to the proposed Music City Center, which he insisted Gaylord doesn’t oppose because it doesn’t include a publicly financed hotel.
Finally, Ingram said that Schulz had extended an invitation to meet with Reed but that the two men haven’t yet had the opportunity to do so.