TN State Fair 'in peril' as talks stall on lease - WSMV News 4

TN State Fair 'in peril' as talks stall on lease

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There are signs the 2013 Tennessee State Fair could be in jeopardy, and it all boils down to money or a lack thereof.

Months of negotiations over a home for the state fair came to a head Tuesday morning after Buck Dozier, executive director of the Tennessee State Fairgrounds, wrote a letter on behalf of the fairgrounds stating "the 2013 State Fair is in peril."

"The one party who doesn't have any skin in this game, but runs all the strings, is the state," said Metro Fair Board member Kenneth Byrd.

But the state isn't kicking in any grant money. The state fair's offer is solely based on ticket sales and comes up $50,000 to $100,000 short of what the fairgrounds needs to break even this year.

Another offer has been proposed from a Memphis company to host a "Middle Tennessee Fair."

"We offer this proposal totaling $270,000, with $200,000 guaranteed in September," said Melissa Bast, with Universal Fairs.

Under that offer, the fair would stay at the fairgrounds in Nashville for at least the next five years, but the state fair association believes Metro has an obligation to provide a home for the state fair.

"We are going to remain committed to putting on the 2013 fair Sept. 6-15 until we've exhausted all possibilities for doing that," said John Rose, chairman of the Tennessee State Fair Association.

However, that plan all rides on a Feb. 13 deadline. By then, the state fair association would have to come up with $50,000 for maintenance on the fairgrounds, an extra 25 cents for every ticket sold up to 50,000 plus an extra 75 cents for every ticket sold thereafter. Otherwise, holding the state fair at the state fairgrounds could definitely be in jeopardy.

Despite the looming deadline, both parties have agreed to meet once more at the end of the month before a final decision is made.

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