Fairgrounds Events Won't Move To Mall 12-02-2010 - WSMV News 4

Fairgrounds Events Won't Move To Mall 12-02-2010

Fairgrounds events won't be moving to Hickory Hollow Mall. Mayor Karl Dean said the move would be too risky.

Read the fairgrounds bill (PDF) | Read Finance Director Rich Riebeling's letter to Metro Council

At a meeting Wednesday night, Dean said he plans to withdraw his proposal to move the city's flea market and expo center from the fairgrounds to Hickory Hollow Mall.
Members of the Metro Council have filed a bill that would allow the state fair to be held at the fairgrounds for at least one more year. The bill would require the five-member Metro Board of Fair Commissioners to negotiate with the Tennessee State Fair Association to keep next year's fair at the Nashville site.
The bill would also keep the expo center at the current fairgrounds location and begin the demolition process of the racetrack on the property to make way for a 40-acre park along Browns Creek.
The mayor's reasons for wanting the delay include questions surrounding the lease with Hickory Hollow Mall and whether it would be a viable location. In addition, the mayor's office wants to explore whether the city should be in the business of running an expo center and flea market.
"(The mayor) thought it would be an appropriate time for everybody to just take a step back, take a collective deep breath and take a closer look at the flea market and expo center," said Alexia Poe of the mayor's office.
However, some Metro Council members are concerned with the planned delay, saying it would only increase the uncertainty for vendors.
"All we're doing is punting it until after the election," said Councilwoman Emily Evans. The mayor and several Metro Council members are up for reelection in 2011.
Evans said if the mayor's office wants to proceed with moving the fair and the expo center, then it needs to come up with a good transition plan.
The bill will come up for first reading at the council's Dec. 21 meeting.
The future of the state fair still isn't clear, but Dean said he would listen to any proposal to hold the fair at the fairgrounds as long as it wouldn't cost taxpayers anything.
Reporter Cara Kumari contributed to this story.

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