Mayor Wants New Board to Oversee New Convention Center - NewsChannel5.com | Nashville News, Weather & Sports

Mayor Wants New Board to Oversee New Convention Center

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The new Nashville convention center has not officially been approved, but the city has already spent millions to build it.

Now, the mayor says he wants to create a new, nine-member board to oversee the project.

News about the board comes less than a week after a NewsChannel 5 investigation found one of the first convention center contracts has already cost nearly six times more than it was originally budgeted.

Investigative reporter Ben Hall first broke the story.

The mayor filed a resolution that would create a Convention Center Authority and would end the Metro Development and Housing Agency's oversight of the project.

Councilman Robert Duvall said the massive convention center project cannot stay under the MDHA's control after our investigation revealed a major cost overrun on one of the first contracts. 

"Taking it out of MDHA's hands is absolutely the minimum the minimum the council is going to accept," Duvall said.

Costs on a communications contract that was not supposed to exceed $75,000 grew to more than $450,000 before the mayor temporarily suspended it last week.

"I would really like the council to have greater oversight - a much greater oversight than saying okay this group couldn't handle it so lets go pick some other people," Duvall added.

Mayor Karl Dean announced he wants to form a Convention Center Authority. It would have nine members appointed by the mayor and approved by the council. The authority would oversee the financing, construction and operation of the convention center.

Councilman Jim Forkham sponsored the bill and says the Convention Center Authority has been talked about for a long time. 

"The financial part as you know is especially important today you want everything to run smoothly financially," Forkham explained.

Forkham said the volunteer board is the best way to make sure the project is finished on budget and on time.

"It was mentioned several months ago that setting up an authority pretty like a sports authority would be the way to go," Forkham added.

The council will vote on the proposal a week from Tuesday. If it passes, the mayor would appoint board members in September.

Dean said the authority will provide even more oversight of the project.

If the council gives final approval to the convention center, construction would begin in the spring. It would take about three years to build.

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