NASHVILLE, Tenn. (WTVF) — Two years after thousands of people filled the streets of downtown Nashville to watch the NFL Draft, there is hope that big events and big crowds will return to Music City.
"There is not only a light at the end of the tunnel, there is optimism," said Butch Spyridon, President and CEO of the Nashville Convention and Vistors Corp. (NCVC)
While the NCVC has submitted a letter of interest to the NFL to host the draft again sometime between 2025 and 2028, Spyridon said other large-scale events are also returning to the calendar.
NASCAR races at the Nashville Superspeedway in Lebanon are scheduled for June, and the Music City Grand Prix Indy Car street race will be in downtown Nashville in August.
Spyridon called this year's planned Fourth of July festivities the first "normal" event since the pandemic. It will feature live music and the largest fireworks show in Nashville history.
"We want to give this event to the city," said Spyridon. "Nashvillians deserve it, and we hope people will book a few hotel rooms and celebrate with us."
The NCVC is also working working with Live on the Green to help boost to the popular free concert series set for Labor Day weekend. The NASCAR awards are also set to return to Nashville in December.
"Everybody is focused on not just bringing their events back, but making them extra special, and a little bit bigger, and a little bit better," said Spyridon.
The NCVC reports that the city lost $3.9 billion in visitor spending in 2020 due to the pandemic. However, Spyridon said during that same time period, the city gained more hotel rooms, bars and restaurants, and attractions like the National Museum of African American Music. He said he believed the city is better positioned to recover from the pandemic than others, and research points to a full recovery by 2023.
Conventions are also starting to increase, and there are improvements in hotel occupancy numbers in Davidson County. The NCVC reports the April 23-24 weekend came in at 76%, which is up from 74% the previous weekend.