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Hammond: Landmark makeovers can help boost tourism

11:29 PM, Feb 11, 2013   |    comments
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  • Commissioner Mike Hammond says Knoxville's vibrant music scene could be key in drawing more tourism
  • Civic Auditorium and Coliseum building in Downtown Knoxville
    

A Knox County commissioner says he wants to see one of Knoxville's greatest assets put to better use.

Commissioner Mike Hammond says Knoxville's vibrant music scene could be key in drawing more tourism, and ultimately more tax dollars to the region.

"We're always looking for ways to increase the tax base. This is easy," he said.

While Hammond's proposal is still in the brain-storming phase, he does have a few ideas about where to start

"Let's look at our Coliseum and see if we need to update it. It was built in 1960, it hasn't been updated since 1960. Eisenhower was president!" he said, referring to the Civic Auditorium and Coliseum building in Downtown Knoxville.

"Of course, it's been well-kept, but do we need to update it? Or do we need to maybe expand, or renovate? Those are questions I think a feasibility study would answer."

Hammond's early list also includes Chilhowee Park and the Old City neighborhood, where many fans and musicians welcome improvement.

"I love Boyd's Jig and Reel, I think they have some great shows," said UT student Cornelia Overton. "The Pilot Light is an awesome venue, Barley's has some good shows. I mean, it's all clustered in this area. I think it's a great idea, as a musician I would love to see that encouraged."

Hammond also points to previous examples of success stories in the downtown area.

"We spent $10 million in Market Square, and look at what's happened!" he said."People are down there, they're living there, people are investing area; it's very vibrant. We invested in the Tennessee Theater, Bijou Theater, so you look at the things we've invested in, they've paid off."

Hammond hopes to discuss the idea soon with other city and county leaders. He says one of the biggest questions remaining: How to pay for it?

"This is my idea and I need to convince other people," he said, adding, "And I hope I'm able to do that."

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