Downtown businesses, Bridgestone Arena express differing views o - WSMV News 4

Downtown businesses, Bridgestone Arena express differing views on transit plan

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Courtesy: No Tax 4 Tracks Courtesy: No Tax 4 Tracks
Courtesy: Transit for Nashville Courtesy: Transit for Nashville
Broadway in downtown Nashville. (Source: WSMV) Broadway in downtown Nashville. (Source: WSMV)

You may disagree with your next-door neighbor about the upcoming transit plan vote. That's true for Lower Broadway businesses, too. 

Some of the city's most familiar names are at odds about the best solution for the future of Nashville transit.

The transit plan includes new projects ranging from new buses with expanded routes and a downtown tunnel with light-rail service to expanding five high-capacity Davidson County corridors.

A commercial in favor of the transit plan features announcers with the Predators and Gnash.

"Any time there's going to be an improvement to the city or to the arena specifically, we ask 'is it good for our fans? Is it good for our employees?'" said David Kells, senior vice president of events and marketing for Bridgestone Arena and the Nashville Predators. "The transit plan checked 'yes' on those boxes."

Kells explained how the proposed transit plan, which Nashvillians will get to vote on next month, would improve travel for both fans and his employees. 

"You need more avenues to come downtown. Right now, the avenue is your car. There's not a secondary way to come down here," Kells said. "We look at things for our part-time employees, our hourly staff. A lot of them may be bus riders for their day job, and a lot of them may be able to make the start of the game by riding the bus, but the bus service ends early enough, they can't ride it leaving the game."

Kells said the proposed plan will help just about anyone that frequents downtown. 

"The all-encompassing transit plan helps all areas from pedestrian traffic to bus riders to people who want to ride light-rail at some point," Kells continued. "There's just more options out there, and we think it's a very good thing."

For a different view on the transit plan, you only have to go across the street. 

Among the usual watch-party announcements, bright lights and chalkboard messages at Rippy's Bar and Grill is a sign: Vote Against Transit Plan May 1.

Signs opposing the plan are also hung on the rooftop patio at Tootsie's Orchid Lounge and balconies at Honky Tonk Central.

Steve Smith, who owns all three of those businesses, declined to appear on camera but told News4 through a representative he believes the plan right now is a waste of taxpayers' money. 

Smith said he'd re-evaluate the project if it were going to Franklin or Murfreesboro. 

Other downtown businesses, including The Stage on Broadway and Legends Corner, also have the signs opposing the plan.

By law, the proposed transit funding is only available to selected cities and counties instead of regions.

The signs around downtown refer to the site

The anti-transit site says tax increases in the current plan aren't affordable for businesses or regular people, and it won't fix congestion where it's needed. 

"We feel it helps fans get to and from the game," said Kells, supporting the plan. "It helps us keep and retain good employees because they have more than one method of transportation to get to and from Bridgestone Arena and back home safely."

Even when neighbors downtown disagrees, Kells said he doesn't see anything wrong with Bridgestone and the Preds publicly picking a side. 

"We didn't view this as a controversial call at all," Kells said. "It's something our city's behind, our mayor's behind, and it made so much sense for the Nashville Predators to be behind it as well. Because we put on big parties, because we put on world-class events, it makes sense we'd have a world-class transportation system."

For more on the transit plan, click here

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