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In their formal request
to the state for authority to create a "tourist development zone" as a funding device for the proposed Music City Center
(MCC), Mayor Karl Dean and MDHA director Phil Ryan continue to promulage the sham arithmetic that has been used repeatedly to build an economic case for a new convention center:
A new convention enter is projected to attract 1 million additional visitors annually, generate an estimated $700 million in direct visitors spending, which would equate to an additional estimated $65 million in state and local tax revenue, and create 36,000 new jobs.
All of the economic impact numbers are based on that magic figure of a million new visitors. At the MCC public forum
earlier this month, convention center expert Heywood Sanders exposed the fantasy of the one-million-new-visitor estimate as having no legitimate empirical basis. But if you don't believe Sanders, then just look at these comparison numbers for San Diego, and see if you can find a way to believe the estimate that MCC backers repeatedly dish up.
San Diego's convention center is about 50 percent larger
than the proposed MCC. In 2008
, its "primary attendance," out-of-towners attending major trade shows, was just under 650,000, and the convention center accounted for 729,000 room-nights of hotel use. And keep in mind that we are being told that the MCC will account not for one million visitors, but for one million new
visitors, and our existing center already draws over 300,000 visitors each year.
So, in round numbers, we are being asked to believe that a Nashville center that is one-third smaller
than San Diego's will generate twice as many visitors
. We know that city officials told potential hotel developers that MCC would generate 200,000-300,000 room-nights of business. Even if we accept that they meant room-nights only in a new headquarters hotel, and if we assume (very conservatively) that only a third of all conventioneers stay in that hotel, and doing the math as charitably as possible, you end up with MCC generating 900,000 room-nights total. And don't forget that the average convention goer stays two or three nights.
The leap from these numbers to "1 million additional visitors" continues to be a death defying one.