An ordinance drafted by Mayor Karl Dean and his administration would redirect a portion of revenue collected from the city’s hotel taxes to repair flood-related damages to Gaylord Opryland’s Grand Ole Opry House.
At a news conference inside the famous hall, which sustained an estimated $20 million in damages, Gaylord CEO Colin Reed turned to Dean, extended his hand and said, “Thank you.”
The bill is expected to be filed on Friday, enabling it to go before the Metro Council on first reading July 20.
“The operation of this Opry House has a very real and tangible impact on the bottom-line of many businesses in Nashville’s hospitality and tourism industry,” Dean said. “This legislation will help get the doors of the Opry House back open.”
In reality, the ordinance would redirect a portion of the city’s hotel tax that was intended to help Gaylord from the beginning.
The Metro Council, in 2007, adopted a 1 percent hike to the city’s hotel/motel tax to increase revenue to construct a new convention center. In Gaylord’s case, the council agreed to direct the portion of the 1 percent addition that falls within its tourism development zone to the then-planned expansion of the Gaylord Opryland Resort & Convention Center. The expansion is still on hold as a result of the nation’s economic downturn.
Following Nashville’s historic flood, Reed had asked that revenue from Gaylord’s share of the hotel tax be used for repair costs instead. The ordinance proposed by Dean would only extend to the Opry House, not Gaylord’s convention center and hotel, which endured far greater damages.
To date, $1.6 million has been collected through Gaylord’s portion of the tax, with $1.2 million raised on an annual basis. With the $20 million damage estimate in mind, Dean’s proposal would reallocate the tax revenue for the next 15 years. Gaylord would be required to submit a yearly report detailing how the money is being used.
Reed said he expects the Opry House to reopen in October.
In the aftermath of the flood, the company has been forced to temporarily lay off 1,700 employees. He also said fewer convention groups are coming to Nashville with Gaylord’s hotel and convention center not set to open until mid-November.
“The facts are the facts, and it’s in everyone’s best interest –– I think the city, Music Valley and our company –– that we get the businesses up and running as quick as possible,” Reed said.
As part of Dean’s proposal, he’s also asked the council to set aside $200,000 to the Nashville Convention & Visitors Bureau to help develop a “marketing and advertising program” to help boost activity within Music Valley, the business district that surrounds Opryland’s hotel and convention center.
“We’re going to really work toward a major valley-wide celebration of the return of the Opry,” said Butch Spyridon, president of the Nashville Convention & Visitors Bureau.
According to Metro Councilman Phil Claiborne, who represents the area, some companies in Music Valley have seen a 60 to 70 percent drop in business in the two months following the flood.
“That’s because of the loss of the Opry grounds,” Claiborne said.