Dr. Heywood Sanders: The Interview

This week, in anticipation of his trip to Nashville to participate in a panel discussion on the proposed convention center, we speak to Dr. Heywood Sanders, a notable urban planning and politics professor at the University of Texas at San Antonio and a convention center expert.

In the interview, Dr. Sanders offers lessons from other cities who have proposed and followed through with similar convention center plans, weighs in on a Dallas-based company’s plan to build a 1.5 million-square-foot Medical Trade Center somewhere near downtown Nashville, urges Nashvillians to attend the panel, and gives examples of the kinds of questions we should be asking the business leaders and elected officials who are pushing the project.

He also gives us his opinion on what a city like ours should do if we find ourselves with hundreds of millions of tourism tax dollars to devote to a major project that is not a convention center.

Listen to our interview with Dr. Sanders [download mp3]:

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The convention center panel discussion, which is this Sunday, May 31, from 2 to 4 PM, at the Steve and Judy Turner Recital Hall at the Blair School of Music at Vanderbilt University, will feature Dr. Sanders, who has studied the issue of building projects as civic investments in more than 30 cities over the past 15 years, and Butch Spyridon, who, as president of the Nashville Convention and Visitors Bureau, has led Nashville’s $4.0 billion hospitality industry since 1991, and will be moderated by Pat Nolan, host of Inside Politics for News Channel 5+.

Organized and sponsored by all five Metro Council At-Large members and Vice Mayor Diane Neighbors, the panel is also sponsored by several district members of Metro Council, including Lonnell Matthews, Jr., Walter Hunt, Michael Craddock, Mike Jameson, Erik Cole, Karen Bennett, Anna Page, Sandra Moore, Kristine LaLonde, Erica Gilmore, Emily Evans and Duane Dominy.

Organizations sponsoring the event include Vanderbilt University, Metro Channel 3, Davidson County Young Democrats, The Tennessean, the Nashville City Paper, the Nashville Scene, and Liberadio(!) with Mary Mancini & Freddie O’Connell.

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4 Responses to “Dr. Heywood Sanders: The Interview”

  1. [...] to an interview with Sanders from 2009. A transcript of an interview with Sanders from 2004 is at “A Lot of Hooey”: Heywood [...]

  2. [...] this week’s Liberadio(!) interview with Dr. Heywood Sanders, professor of public administration at the University of Texas at San [...]

  3. Mary Mancini says:

    Thank you for the tip on the book, John.

    I guess we’ll hear their full case on Sunday. We’re looking forward to it.

  4. John Lamb says:

    I have always enjoyed the book The American City: What Works and What Doesn’t, a free preview of which is available on Google Books. A description of convention centers complete with case studies begins on page 102, with “Ingredients of Success” starting on page 109: see here.

    I hope the May 31 event isn’t a binary “Convention Center Good” vs. “Convention Center Bad” debate. As your guest mentioned, we need to know whether the planners drew from the experiences of other cities, what they identified as factors key to the success or failure of convention centers, and what they have done to tailor this plan toward success. Saying that we need a facility that is bigger than our current center would not count as particularly insightful; what else do they have to make their case?

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