by Steven Hale
It would appear that the Tennessee State Fair isn't going anywhere for now.
A deal between the Tennessee State Fair Association, the chosen nonprofit operator of this year's state fair, and the Metro Board of Fair Commissioners, which oversees the Metro-owned Tennessee State Fairgrounds, is within reach after the TSFA board approved a proposal on Tuesday that meets the terms of last week's final offer from Metro, and then some.
Lease negotiations between the two sides had come to an apparent standstill, which threatened to force the state fair outside of Nashville for the first time in its history. While uncertainty about the fairgrounds and the legal implications of a new law giving oversight of the fair to the state remain, the apparent agreement could allay anxieties about the event for now.
From The City Paper, after the jump:
The apparent agreement is still tentative, however, pending final approval by the fair board at its Feb. 26 meeting. But it does, as Rose said, meet the terms of the fair board’s offer.
On top of a guaranteed advance of $50,000, the TSFA would give Metro $2.25 per ticket sold for the first 50,000 tickets, and $3.75 per ticket sold after that. They would also pay Metro $1.00 for every free ticket distributed, with a limit of 3,500 tickets.
Based on the attendance at the 2012 fair, according to Rose’s letter to the fair board, those terms would result in $179,268.75 in revenue for Metro, over 65 percent more than they made last year.
As per the Metro offer, Rose said the TSFA has also sought clarification from the state’s Department of Agriculture about whether the nonprofit could put up to $50,000 in grant money from the state toward improvements at the fairgrounds. The TSFA is awaiting a response from the department.
In an effort to “demonstrate our commitment to the Tennessee State Fairgrounds facilities,” the letter states, the TSFA board also voted to propose that the new lease be a three-year agreement. If a three-year lease were agreed to, the TSFA would commit to investing 25 percent of its net revenues each year in mutually agreed upon facility improvements. Rose said that could amount to up to $25,000 in additional investment in the grounds, and noted that the TSFA invested $15,000 in the grounds last year.
While the full fair board will have to approve the deal, board chairman Ned Horton and board member Kenny Byrd both sounded positive notes about the development Tuesday night. While the fair board has said their costs could potentially be as high as $300,000, they had been seeking a deal that would provide at least $200,000 in total revenue from this year's fair. The TSFA believes the new terms will "likely meet or exceed" that number.