Metro councilman wants city to build theme park at fairgrounds - WSMV News 4

Metro councilman wants city to build theme park at fairgrounds

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Many Tennesseans say they miss the old Opryland theme park, and now a Metro councilman says he wants the city to build a new theme park at the state fairgrounds.

Volunteer Village at the fairgrounds comes alive every two weeks of the year with games and all sorts of entertainment.

Metro Councilman Bruce Stanley wants to see that type of activity all year long.

Stanley remembers the days of the Opryland theme park well.

"I do know the city lost millions and millions in tourist revenue with the closing of Opryland theme park in 1997, so it's time for Metro Nashville to eliminate that bad decision," he said.

Stanley is now filing an ordinance asking the fair board and the mayor to solicit proposals from developers to turn the site into an entertainment venue with rides, shows and games.

"I think a theme park would fit directly into that site perfectly without having a lot of infrastructure improvements or upgrades that are needed," Stanley said.

But could the proposal really work?

A few years ago, leaders in Louisville, KY built the Kentucky Kingdom theme park on 58 acres of land that had been used for the state fair.

At one point, the park brought in 2.5 million visitors each year, Stanley says, but now the park is closed and could remain closed until 2013 because a public-private partnership can't be reached.

"It seems like it could be the right fit for at least part of it. I'd like to know what part," former Metro Councilman Jamie Hollin said.

This past summer, Hollin led the petition to save the fairgrounds. But he wonders if a theme park is the best move for Metro.

"Seems like it would require a lot of consensus building before we got there because I don't think too many people will trust the current fair board and their management of the site," he said.

Stanley plans to meet with the mayor sometime in the next few weeks to discuss this idea. As for his ordinance, it goes before the Metro Council on Tuesday.

Mayor Karl Dean released a statement to Channel 4 Thursday:

"The council established a process to go forward with determining the best long-term use of the fairgrounds property by developing a master plan. And we should respect and support that process."

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