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Music City’s Sports, Hospitality Communities Working to Help Area Recover

4 Mar, 2020

By: Mary Helen Sprecher

The tornado that touched down in Nashville on March 3 with deadly force, killing more than 20 people and crushing dozens of buildings, left the city shaken but resilient.

“We are open. All are welcome” read the neon print on the special #NashvilleStrong landing page for the Nashville Convention & Visitors Corp (Nashville/Music City). The CVB has been working to reassure visitors the city is not only recovering but that it has every intention of continuing to welcome those who travel.

“We are grateful for the outpouring of support and concern since the devastating tornado,” stated Butch Spyridon, President and CEO of the CVB. “While our focus remains on helping victims and Nashville recover, we have been asked questions about the impact on tourism, conventions and meetings, especially by groups arriving in the coming weeks.

Downtown Nashville and the city’s entertainment district were untouched. With minor exceptions, the city’s hotels, restaurants, meeting spaces, attractions and venues are open. Shows went on Tuesday night at the Grand Ole Opry, Ryman Auditorium, Lower Broadway honky tonks and other live music venues. Current conventions are ongoing at Music City Center. There was never a disruption at Nashville International Airport. All major attractions are open, except for the Tennessee State Museum due to road closures in North Nashville. SEC Men’s Basketball Tournament has announced it will go on as planned starting March 11. We are grateful that even with all the devastation, the music keeps playing in Music City. At times like these, we not only have to help our neighbors recover but also keep them working and the industry generating tax revenue for the city and state.

We are overwhelmed by the support and donations to aid in recovery taking place in the impacted neighborhoods of East Nashville, North Nashville, Germantown and Donelson. We are continuing to raise funds through Music City Inc., and those funds will be immediately distributed directly to families significantly impacted, with a priority on those employed in the hospitality industry.”

Sectors of the hospitality industry did take a hit, although it could have been far worse. While the FieldHouse Jones Nashville and the Clarion Hotel Nashville Downtown-Stadium both reported substantial damage, none of the guests or staff at the hotels sustained injuries. The hotels are closed while damage is assessed. Even so, power outages are still a problem for thousands across the city.

According to Athletic Business, most of the city’s sports venues were spared, although First Horizon Park, the home of the Nashville Sounds Triple-A baseball team sustained minor damage. A media release from the team noted that no structural damage occurred and no injuries at the facility were reported. SI.com reported that the ballpark’s iconic guitar-shaped scoreboard received most of the damage (the team has pledged to replace it), and the Nashville Tennessean posted an assortment of reactions to, and responses from,  the city’s sports community (as well as those outside it). The Nashville Predators NHL franchise served lunch to people affected by the storms at Bridgestone Arena on Wednesday.  

Visit Cookeville, outside of Nashville, also has set up its own #CookevilleStrong page to help those affected, and includes suggestions for how to help out.

“We are overwhelmed with the outpouring of love for our community,” read a note on the website. “As we continue the rescue and recovery process, we want to offer resources in how you can be a part of the #CookevilleStrong effort.”

In the Nashville metro area, the Centennial Sportsplex opened its doors as a 24-hour shelter, and additionally noted it was accepting those with pets. The Red Cross is working onsite.

Rock This Town, a program of the IRONMAN Foundation and the charitable program for the Rock ‘n’ Roll Marathon Series, has launched a humanitarian relief effort campaign in response to tornado damage in mid-Tennessee.

The Nashville CVB further provided information on how those outside the area, or those who visit it, can help the city as it gets back to its feet:

Information for those impacted by the storm: 

  • Get real-time information on road closures, shelters, voting day updates, and more through the Metro Storm Response Informationnashville.gov

Displaced Jobs Assistance:
HospitalityTN is coordinating efforts to keep Nashville’s hospitality community employed while the city recovers.

Companies with employees who are currently displaced from their job are asked to have those individuals contact employment@hospitalitytn.com with their needs. (Those who are open for business and able to offer temporary employment are asked to e-mail employment@hospitalitytn.com with any opportunities.

Temporary Accommodations:

Airbnb has activated its Open Homes Program to offer free, temporary housing to those impacted by the storm, including residents, employees and relief workers. The Open Homes Program is available through March 24 in Nashville and surrounding areas, including the counties of Benton, Caroll, Davidson, Wilson, Putnam and Gibson. 

Note: Airbnb has also activated its “extenuating circumstances policy” to offer hosts and guests in the impacted area the option of cancelling eligible reservations without charge.

Open, Closed and Helping Out:

Also on the landing page are lists of businesses that are closed for the duration, as well as those that are offering assistance, such as nightlife spots hosting benefit concerts and events, restaurants offering free or discounted meals, attractions that have waived admission fees to give displaced residents and their families a place to go for a few hours and a slew of fundraisers from a wide range of businesses.

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