Hard Rock Cafe Co-Founder Proposes 14-Stage Music Multiplex for Fairgrounds

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Nashville Skyline rendering.
  • Nashville Skyline rendering.
The Tennessee State Fairgrounds are basically the CBGB’s of the local family-fun scene — it’s a dilapidated dump way past its prime. Nevertheless, like New York City’s now-shuttered most famous punk-rock dive, there has been an ongoing debate between proprietary sentimentalists petitioning to save The Blight on Berry Hill and, well, more pragmatic people who have yet to prevail in their efforts to replace fledgling, though unfading, fairgrounds with something of greater value. Isaac Tigrett is neither a preservationist nor a pragmatist, it seems. The Hard Rock Cafe and House of Blues co-founder is proposing Project Nashville Skyline — a 14-stage, 4,000- to 5,000-plus capacity mega-venue to be built on the renovated fairgrounds site.

In an unfortunately un-embeddable video interview with TalkApolis[dot]com, Tigrett lays out his case for the project, complete with mock-ups of Japanese architects’ proposed designs for the joint — or rather joints — which I’ve screen-capped and posted above and below for your viewing pleasure, convenience, mockery, etc.

So, why the fairgrounds? Why now?

The answer to the former is self-explanatory — the fairly wilting eyesore needs a shot of life, a makeover, or to just be torpedoed and re-developed completely, into something else entirely. But it’s the answer to the latter question wherein Tigrett starts to lose me and make me go all, like, “WUT?”

Crediting events like last week’s Grammy nominations concert, the Nashville native — who currently lives in India — observes, in his view from afar, that “Nashville has just stepped out onto the world stage. … It’s no longer a second-class city."

Fair enough.

However, Tigrett comes off like he hasn't been down to Lower Broad since Bill Boner’s mayoral tenure when he goes on to argue that Music City doesn’t have the venues to meet the needs of many artists or demand of local concertgoers and, more importantly, tourists — who instead opt to empty their pockets at Graceland or … get this … Dollywood.

Music City "has lost millions and millions and millions, maybe hundreds of millions of dollars, over the last 20 years as tourists would come here looking for music,” Tigrett guestimates, “which was the offering of Music City, and there was no place to really see the music.”

Between War Memorial Auditorium, Marathon Music Works, the Mercy Lounge/Cannery Ballroom Complex, TPAC’s Jackson Hall, the in-coming Anthem, the Ryman, Bridgestone Arena and, as rumor has it, maybe even an in-coming House of Blues, how true is Tigrett’s bold statement?

The Tennessean notes that, in a 2012 poll, Travel + Leisure magazine readers ranked Nashville second only to New Orleans as the nation’s best music scene. And I do believe that tourists tend to be practitioners of travel and leisure.

Of course, Nashville is still without a proper large- or even mid-scale amphitheater, but according to a press release, Tigrett’s Nashville Skyline proposal doesn’t include one. It does, however, include plans for a an IMAX theater, restaurants, a rehabilitated expo center, a live-streaming broadcasting center, an auto museum, an RV park and, perhaps most impressively, “the world’s longest bar.”

So what are your thoughts, readers?

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