Making the Music City Center both a centerpiece and a gateway to Nashville

May 31, 2013

MCC

Image Credit: TVSDESIGN / TUCK-HINTON ARCHITECTS / MOODY-NOLAN via The Tennessean

So we’re coming off a pretty big couple of weeks, huh, Nashville?

The opening of the Music City Center gave us another feather in a cap that is starting to make us look like quite the peacock. With all these people telling us how wonderful we are (I’ll spare you the many links), I guess it only made sense to open a 1.2 million-square-foot building and admit, with a sheepish grin, “Yeah, we are pretty great.”

As I looked out from one of the balconies of the MCC last week, I wondered how newcomers to Nashville would see the city through the prism of this new entertainment district. How would their version of Nashville compare to mine?

We have a great opportunity – and, perhaps, a responsibility – with the Music City Center to ensure our visitors experience the Nashville that we enjoy every day. I think the powers-that-be recognized this, and there are hearty doses of local flavor throughout the building. The Nashville Songwriters Hall of Fame. The $2 million in art installations. The architecture that gives the feeling of being inside a guitar (or maybe a whale). And it’s a good sign that the first big event in the center will be our local Music City Sports Festival.

Is it going to feel touristy? Sure. The MCC is surrounded by hotels, honky-tonks, the Country Music Hall of Fame and Bridgestone Arena. Convention visitors to our city are still going to get the amped-up, ABC television-show version of Nashville, and that’s OK.

But as the city continues to market the MCC and the great new amenities around it, we would do well to incorporate the little things that make Nashville what it is and what it’s becoming. Mention in its promotion that you can escape up to Rolling Mill Hill for great views, some awesome coffee and food from one of the best chefs in the country. Encourage intrepid B-Cyclers to make it over to Five Points, or Jefferson Street, or Centennial Park. Remind them to catch a baseball game at that old college-days couch of a stadium we keep meaning to replace (and to grab a burger at Gabby’s if they’re lucky).

City leaders have made it a point to say that the MCC is for Nashvillians to enjoy. Just as important, let’s make the MCC a place for visitors to enjoy Nashville – the Nashville we know.

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