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Help Save the Fairgrounds/Race Track

If you do not keep up with the news, you may not be aware that the State Fair Board has been
accepting proposals to move the State Fairgrounds here in Nashville and sell the property to
developers. However, the Tennessee Legislature, back in 1909 when the Fairgrounds were first
established, passed legislation to make any sale of the Fairgrounds illegal. The Legislature specified
that if Davidson County wished to divest itself of the Fairgrounds, it could only be under certain
conditions, and then the property could only revert to the original owners. The obvious intent was to
bar Davidson County from making a “windfall” profit from the sale of property that belongs to the
people of Tennessee.

However the current Fair Board, apparently in an effort to increase the Davidson County tax
base, feels that it’s OK to attempt to side-step the Legislation and sell the Fairgrounds.

But even if it were legal to sell the Fairgrounds, it’s likely to cost more to move it and develop a
new location than to leave it where it is and to make improvements on the current property. Further,
the Fairground is surrounded by middle-class housing, which would likely suffer an additional tax
burden if the proposed extensive new development were to take place. Most of the re-development
proposals involve building condominiums and/or strip malls.

Currently the Fairgrounds are very centrally located for all the residents of Davidson County
with ideal access both by public transportation and interstate connections. So far, the only proposal for
the new location is on property in Bordeaux, near the county landfill. This would be a limiting factor
as far as access to the Fairgrounds by the majority of residents. This central location is also a selling
point for non-fair events such as the Christmas show, the flea market and other events.

The Fairgrounds also currently contribute to the local businesses such as restaurants, motels,
and gas stations surrounding the property.

At this time, the top four money-makers for the Fairgrounds are the flea market, the racetrack,
wrestling matches, and the annual State Fair. All of these would be impacted as far as attendance and
participation if the Fairgrounds were moved to an outer part of the county. A non-central location
would also be a limiting factor to increasing the non-fair usage for other shows and events.

The noise generated by the racetrack has been mentioned as a factor, but the racetrack has been
there for over 100 years, with auto racing having over a 50 year history there. The racetrack has been
there and in operation before any of the local residents moved into the neighborhood; therefore they
were all well aware of any racetrack noise before they moved into the area. And there have been some
recent improvements in the sound levels by limiting the practice times of the race cars and requiring
mufflers to be installed on them.

The Fairground property itself is also rich in history, other than the history of the State Fair and
the racetrack. That property is that last large portion of the original tract of land owned by John Rains,
who came to this area along with James Robertson to found the city of Nashville. There was once a
blockhouse fort on this property that supported the defense of Fort Nashboro.

Surveys taken of the local residents indicate an overwhelming majority wish the Fairgrounds to
remain right where it is, and for improvements to be made to the property.

So why is the Fair Board even considering the illegal sale of the Fairgrounds? The only reason
that seems evident, is that it would make a short-term profit for Davidson County.

But this short-term profit would be more than compromised by the additional tax burden on the
local residents, the loss of income to local businesses, the loss of revenue due to a non-central location
and the cost of establishing a new fairgrounds and all of it’s facilities. Not to mention the historical
loss.

But this does not have to be. The Fairgrounds belong to you, the people of Tennessee, and you,
the people can insist that the Fair Board and Davidson County follow the existing legislation and leave
the Fairgrounds in its present location and make the needed improvements to keep it a viable property
for the people.

You can do this by making your wishes known to the “powers that be.” If we the people write
the Mayor, the City Council, the Fair Board— even the governor and your state legislators if you wish
—then we can insure that the law is followed. Tell them that you want this property that belongs to the
people to remain intact. The only changes that need to be made are improvements. Tell them to follow
the law as it is written.

If we all stand together, we can be assured that this valuable asset remains forever the property
of the people, and will be passed along to our children and our descendants, just as it has been for the
past 100 years.