Broadway Businesses Concerned Over NYE Change

Posted at 6:27 PM, Aug 26, 2016
and last updated 2016-08-26 20:57:40-04

A day after the change was announced for New Years Eve in Nashville, the idea received mixed reviews.

Big acts on a big stage: it's what people have come to expect. And it happens on Lower Broadway, one of the biggest tourist attraction in Nashville. 

Yet, 2016's New Year's Eve will be different. 

"We have had such overwhelming folks come downtown for New Years in the past we were worried about the safety and security of our visitors," said Mayor Megan Barry when asked about the change on Friday.

The stage will move from Broadway to Bicentennial Mall, a few minutes away. The city said the park will fit a lot more people and keep them safer.

However, folks like Nashville native and bartender Kelsey Medeiros aren't happy about the change. 

"That's not an attraction to anyone," she said about Bicentennial Mall, "people come here to be on Broadway."

She's worried about losing out on what she expected to be a huge night.

"If that (New Years Eve) ever actually went away a lot of people would lose a lot of money," she said.

Along with servers and bartenders, local artists like Ronnie Lee Stanley work mainly for tips.

"(It's) kind of like bummer you know because we're not going to be playing for those people and making that money," he said.

For others, the change brings mixed reviews.

"I like parks also (for music festivals)," said Shelby Kinsall.

"I like a place where you can jump from place to place and listen to lots of music," said Courtney Stevens.

The Nashville Convention & Visitors Corp puts on the show every year. It plans to shuttle people between Bicentennial Mall and Broadway, promising a great celebration. Just a different one than people are used to.

CEO of the Visitors Corp Butch Spyridon released the following statement Friday afternoon:

“Crowd size and security are the two driving forces behind this decision. And one begets the other. At 150,000 people last year, there was absolutely no room on the street for the first three blocks. And when the bars and restaurants empty out between 11 and 12, the event stretches beyond capacity.
The buildings, streets and alleys limit any type of emergency egress in the unlikely event of an occurrence. We can’t enlarge the street, and the thought of producing an event of lesser quality does not serve anybody well. We hope and think by utilizing Bicentennial Mall, as well as activating Broadway, that we can spread the crowd, provide greater security at the Mall and be in a position to handle a larger crowd. The Mall itself as a basic rectangle, by design, makes it easier to place a watchful eye over the entire site, and ingress and egress is easier with the lack of buildings.
We built this event from zero to an enormous success. We will do everything within our ability to continue that. While we think Bicentennial Mall will absolutely work, we are also disappointed to move off Lower Broadway. We know we’ll have to add extra amenities and special effects to enhance the night, and we expect nothing less of ourselves.”

Some people said they didn't think the crowd would be as big without the main attraction downtown. The Mayor disagrees.

"You'll have the ability to do both (the concert and downtown)," said Mayor Barry, "and once you hear who our headliner is I don't think there will be any issue with that place being absolutely packed."

The Visitors Corp says the stage will be located about halfway up the Mall. There will be a secondary fireworks show there and a large screen set up on Broadway so people downtown can watch the concerts and the music note drop at midnight.