Freedom Fest is this weekend and whenever we have such an outdoor event the question of location comes up.
Some people like the Riverview Stage; some people hate it. Insects, accessibility, parking, lack of air movement and other questions enter into it but it can be a nice setting for some events.
It also appears that the Corps of Engineers is going to allow the city to clean the banks to a degree (but not dress the banks itself), which should help.
Regardless, aldermen have poured a lot of money into the stage area so it looks like they think they have to stick with it.
To the chagrin of city officials, many people – me included – still think the courthouse lawn is unbeatable for a festival backdrop, however.
Using it creates something of a logistical nightmare due to the concentrated area, parking and traffic control with a need to close streets.
And now, with the old oaks gone there is absolutely no shade for any part of the courthouse lawn. It would be a furnace until sunset.
The city used to rent a stage along with lighting and sound equipment for each festival but now it’s mostly only lighting and sound. This is still expensive.
If the city is going to continue to have festivals and other events, I have often asked why they don’t just purchase a stage and equipment rather than renting.
Of course that would be hugely expensive, but certainly not as costly as renting it two or three times a year over 25 years.
A portable stage could be put up almost anywhere: downtown, BNA Bank Park, fairgrounds, a football field, even the courthouse.
Of course it would need to be maintained and have people to operate it but that can be done. We have skilled people here.
Owning the equipment should save money in the long run, it could possibly even be rented out for income, and would give the city flexibility in putting on events that it does not have now.
It could save money and is at least worth looking into for feasibility.