Let the Farmers Market serve alcohol, and make the Preds help pay the rent.
We’ll drink to that
Nashville has much to anticipate with the forthcoming renovation of the Farmers Market: freshly picked produce from local farmers, cooking classes in the market’s yet-to-be-built demonstration kitchen, a cleaned-up market hall with vendors offering the best food products our city has to offer. As laid out by Farmers Market director Jeff Themm, the renovation plans would also make room for new restaurants to move in, or for already existing ones to relocate within the market. Improving the dining offerings is key to bringing customers back to the market—and with those improvements, Themm hopes, would be the option for restaurants to serve alcohol. What could be more perfect than ordering a glass of wine to accompany a plate of bruschetta made with freshly grown tomatoes, or a mug of beer to wash down a basket of sweet potato fries?
Unfortunately, some Metro Council members have already gone on record as saying that they’re opposed to the idea of serving alcohol at the Farmers Market because it would compromise the family atmosphere. Their reasoning couldn’t be more wrongheaded, as evidenced by the number of restaurants that already serve alcohol and still somehow manage to create a civilized environment where parents and children can enjoy a meal together. As one frustrated vendor has pointed out, it’s not as though Themm is talking about opening a bar or nightclub in the market. He’s simply trying to find a way for restaurants to thrive—and, like it or not, sales of alcoholic drinks are often a restaurant’s main source of profit. We realize that some council members may be opposed to drinking alcohol based on moral grounds, but as long as adults over age 21 are legally allowed to drink, they’re enforcing a questionable double standard by trying to ban sales of alcoholic beverages at the Farmers Market. —Jonathan MarxHockey Talkin’
Don’t get us wrong: we’re big fans of the Nashville Predators. We’ve been to maybe a dozen games this year—the merciless destruction of Calgary two weekends ago was by far their best—and in fact, we’ve already plopped down a chunk of our meager writers’ salaries on playoff tickets. When it comes to the local hockey team, we’re the biggest fans this side of (the notoriously rowdy) Section 303.
But our love for the Predators’ players and fascination with Barry Trotz’s stone-faced coaching style don’t cloud our judgment as taxpayers. That’s why the hockey club’s sweetheart deal with the city has always chafed our padded region a little bit. These days, Metro taxpayers sink about 5 million bucks a year into the arena in the form of an operating subsidy that’s cost the city over $42 million since it began in fiscal year 1996. As Metro finance director David Manning famously said, “We have an operating account down there, we fill it with money, they take it away and then we fill it up again.” It’s almost as bad a deal as Darcy Hordichuk’s current three-game suspension.
But here’s the real kick in the ice: the Predators aren’t even in compliance with their ridiculously generous lease agreement. The contract requires the franchise to maintain a minimum net worth of thirtysomething million dollars at all times, and the team can’t do it. In its defense, team management points out that it’s actually never been in compliance with that part of the contract—which is all the more reason to get things cleared up.
So, attention city officials with an eye toward budget time: amend the agreement to bring the Preds into compliance, and by way of evening the score, extract some concessions from the club that will keep it from extracting so much cash from taxpayers’ pockets. After all, those playoff tickets cost enough as it is. —John Spragens