Nashville Sure Knows How to Kick Off a New Convention Center in Style

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Nashville kicked off the opening of its 1.2 million square-foot Music City Center in style yesterday with a massive public open house that included public tours, lectures on various aspects of the building, and live music on the plaza featuring music by Phil Vassar and Ten Out of Tenn (who were all amazing and just rocked the house).

Wandering through the four stories of meeting space was a wild experience. Everywhere I turned there were musicians, be they duos playing acoustic guitar or a full-on symphony orchestra. And the 350,000-square-foot exhibit hall was turned into a kiddie paradise for the day, with bouncy castles and bouncy swing/trampoline things, and so many other rides and toys it was a bit dizzying. Oh, and there also was something I'd never seen before on a tradeshow floor—a zipline!

The 57,000-square-foot grand ballroom and 18,000-square-foot junior ballroom, and its 90,000 square feet of meeting room space were set in various different meeting and banquet settings to help planners visualize their events in the 60 or so meeting rooms. I'm sure I'll learn more about all of it today, but one thing that really stood out was the four-acre rooftop covered in greenery. I hear the center is on track to be certified Silver Level LEED—Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design—by the U.S. Green Building Council, in large part due to its 360,000-gallon retention tank. The tank will collect run-off, which will then be used to keep that roof greenery green, flush the building's toilets, and water the landscaping.

And the artwork, oh, the artwork! You have to see the four-story piece that I was instantly smitten with. Again, I'll likely learn more about it all today, but everywhere you look, there's something to catch your eye.

Later on we went to the Mercy Lounge to catch three (well, actually four since one in the audience joined the others on stage for a few songs) of the Ten out of Tenn, who were playing their hit songs for a Heroes Behind the Hits Sirius/XM show the Nashville Convention and Visitors Corp. puts on. They were spectacularly good. While my head wanted to go crawl the honky tonks, the rest of me said it was time to tuck in for the night. Looking forward to today's festivities!

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