NASHVILLE, Tenn. (WKRN) – Mayor Megan Barry gave a show of support for The Fairgrounds Nashville on Tuesday.
For the first time in several years, money is being allocated for upgrades and improvements.
The mayor put $12 million in her capital spending plan to pay the work.
The Tennessee fairgrounds site, host of the annual state fair and stock car racing, is a perfect example of two different visions for the future.
Former Nashville mayor Karl Dean proposed demolishing the fairgrounds to attract new development to the area. The backlash was loud and strong, and the plan was abandoned.
Current mayor Megan Barry is embracing the fairgrounds and its nearly 120-year history with a 12 million dollar capital improvement package for a new grandstand and other renovations.
“So the 12 million dollars is to actually upgrade all the bathrooms, to look at the HVAC, and improve the overall look and feel of the fairgrounds, and to put some money into it so we can continue to invest in this jewel that is in our community,” Mayor Barry said.
The monthly flea market alone produces about 1.5 million dollars for the city.
“It is really going to help the flea market. We’ve got buildings that leak and we’ve got some that need more air conditioning and the flea market is the biggest contributor out here,” said Mary Ann Smith, the market’s interim manager.
And racing at the historic Nashville speedway has been drawing crowds since 1904.
Mayor Barry visited the track, strapped into a race car, and took a few hot laps around the half-mile oval.
She is a big fairgrounds supporter.
“The voters voted several years ago to keep it what it is, so what we need to be doing is making sure we are putting the investment in there that it deserves,” she said.
The improvements will come slowly with it taking about three or four years to accomplish.