Tony Conway & The Nashville Shed

Not four years after the closure of the Starwood Amphitheatre near Nashville, the city is floating a proposal to bring outdoor concerts back to Music City.

Mayor Karl Dean is exploring the idea of a downtown riverfront amphitheatre that could help fill a capacity niche and draw mid-level touring acts back to the city.

He told the Tennessean he was interested in the former Thermal Transfer plant site along the Cumberland River, explaining the 11-acre plot should be used to “make a statement about our city.”

“I think something music-related would accomplish that,” he said.

The Mayor’s Music Business Council has reportedly been in venue discussions over the past year and a new subcommittee chaired by Conway Entertainment Group’s Tony Conway will lead the charge.

Conway left Buddy Lee Attractions, where he was CEO and co-owner, in November after 33 years with the agency. He reemerged with a consulting firm in January and was named talent consultant and executive producer for Ronnie Gilley Entertainment, which includes the new Country Crossing entertainment complex in Dothan, Ala.

Conway told Pollstar that while the subcommittee is still in the early stages of formation, the group will be tasked with researching whether there’s a need for a new amphitheatre in metropolitan Nashville.

Some local officials have questioned whether a multipurpose venue makes more sense for the city.

“Amphitheatres in and of themselves don’t engender constant use,” Councilman Mike Jameson told the Tennessean.

“Amphitheatre entertainment by definition is seasonal. There are a good four months out of the year when you simply can’t do much in terms of outdoor entertainment. And you’re also limited by the hours of the day.

“That’s not to eliminate [amphitheatres] from consideration, but it’s to suggest that they should be part of a larger design that has a mixed-use approach,” he said.

In other Nashville news, the Tennessee State Fair is searching for a new site after the mayor announced he’d like to redevelop the city-owned fairgrounds. His administration is reportedly close to finalizing a deal to move the fair’s exposition center to a nearby mall that has struggled to retain tenants in recent years.