By allowing ads to appear on this site, you support the local businesses who, in turn, support great journalism.
City OKs $62,500 annually for Bluegrass Underground
Placeholder Image

It appears McMinnville officials are dedicated to Bluegrass Underground.
During Tuesday night’s Board of Mayor and Aldermen meeting, officials voted to enter into an agreement with Bluegrass Underground as an underwriter to the tune of $187,500 over the next three years. Being an ordinance, one more passing read is required.
The measure passed 5-1. Mayor Jimmy Haley, Vice Mayor Ben Newman and Aldermen Ryle Chastain, Everett Brock and Steve Harvey voted in favor. Alderman Jimmy Bonner voted against. Alderman Mike Neal was absent.
Bluegrass Underground, the TV series, has been filmed in the Volcano Room of Cumberland Caverns since 2011. Filming for Season 6 was held April 1-3 with 12 bands performing. That season premiers across the U.S. in September.
Bonner expressed discontent for the cost gradually increasing from $50,000 a year in 2011 to $62,500 a year now.
“I understand they do a lot of publicity for us and promotion, but I don’t see giving them $187,500 over the next three years and how that will help the city,” said Bonner. “I want to help them out but I think $50,000 is plenty. I don’t see the raises. Are they going to be asking for $75,000 after this three-year contract? It keeps going up and up and up. Everyone that asks us for money asks for more and more and more. At some time, there has to be a stopping point.”
Harvey added, “I do wonder that myself. Have they given us a reason as to why it has gone up? It’s gone up about 28 percent from what it was.”
Brock believes show producers were estimating cost in the beginning because they didn’t know how much money would be needed. Now the actual cost is known.
“I think the first two years, on their part, was a total guess,” said Brock. “They didn’t know what they were getting into. That’s why it was $50,000 and $55,000. They’ve held the last three years at $60,000. They’ve gone up 4 percent. I don’t see 4 percent as a wow figure. It’s gone from $60,000 to $62,500 and they are holding that for three years.”
According to producers Todd Mayor and Todd Jarrell, the show broadcasts nationally and offers its underwriters “massive media impact.” Along with the city of McMinnville, the show is sponsored by Nissan of North America, Acceptance Auto Insurance, and the Tennessee Department of Tourist Development.
Newman wants to continue the city’s support.
“The dollar that we’re spending here is a great value for the city,” he said. “It draws people to the city. It’s a really good thing. It might still go on if we don’t sponsor it, but we don’t have our name on it. They might not say Bluegrass Underground in Cumberland Caverns in McMinnville, Tenn. They could just say Tennessee, near Nashville. I don’t want them to say that. I want them to say this is McMinnville, Tenn.”
The future of the city is in tourism, says Brock.
“We did this six years ago when we didn’t have two nickels to rub together because we saw the potential,” said Brock. “Let’s face it, we’re not going to have a company like Bridgestone come in here again. We’re going to have to make it on tourism. You might get some small companies but tourism is the way to go. I sat on my front porch the other day and watched cars go by. About 10 percent of them had a kayak strapped to the top of them. It was amazing.”
Bonner asked Brock if the city would sponsor a kayak business if it asked for financial assistance to buy kayaks or promote kayaking.
“If the kayak people came to me and were willing to put the city of McMinnville on every kayak, I might be tempted to give them some money,” said Brock.
Haley agreed adding, “If Jackson Kayak wanted to put McMinnville, rather than Sparta, on the side of their kayaks, and they go all over the world, we might.”
One more passing read is required before the three-year contract with Bluegrass Underground is finalized.