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Remember all those grandiose plans for what Nashville could do with the fairgrounds on Nolensville Road? There were four basic contenders. One would have turned the 117-acre complex into a kind of rideless, mini-Universal Studios Hollywood. The others included a mixed-use town center with living space and possibly schools or a library; a mixed-use development with retail, office space and residential space; and a fourth idea that built off what the site's been used for since 1904--racing. The last of these would have added a baseball stadium, a waterpark and possibly an amphitheater.
All viable ideas, all worth thinking about. Ostensibly, any one of them would transform the fairgrounds from a hillbilly multiplex into--well, at the very least a state-of-the-art hillbilly multiplex.
The debate has been covered quite a bit, and a lot of the hemming and hawing concerns what the racetrack means to the community. I live right by the racetrack, and I'll tell you what it means to this community member: noise. Open the windows, and hear the roar. Close the windows, and hear the slightly dulled roar.
The racetrack's lease was supposed to expire Dec. 31, and I for one was waiting eagerly to see which repurpose plan would be approved. Instead, I saw this headline over the weekend: "Nashville man wins fairground bid
Apparently, the fair board decided to extend the lease by a year, and the co-owner of a racing-parts business won the bid for that extended lease. So it's another year of racetrack squeals, shouty announcer voices and otherwise sunny, window-opening days interrupted by squawk.
"We'll see what a local boy can do with this track," said Buck Dozier, the fair's executive director.
Uh, let me guess--keep it exactly the same as it has been for a year? Oh, wait: races won't be held before 3 p.m. or after 11 p.m. Which is awesome, because I'm never hanging out at home from 3 p.m. to 11 p.m.
I get that the races used to be
a cool, family-friendly fun thing to do. (There's actually a really cool picture history here
of the Nashville Speedway.) But now? Please, someone tell me what the racetrack does for the community. I'm always suspicious of the argument that things that make a city's character interesting but have become troubled or irrelevant institutions should be permanent parts of the landscape. I've only lived in Nashville about 10 years, but I feel confident in saying the role of ye olde racetrack is not what it once was.
The only thing slightly more annoying than this news was all the talk about how Vanderbilt moving offices into 100 Oaks--the other end of my neighborhood--would bring higher-end restaurants and businesses than the current Applebee's. The first restaurant coming? Logan's. Thanks, Nashville!