Bluegrass Under-ground at Cumberland Caverns will receive financial backing from the city of McMinnville for the next three years.
City officials voted to enter into an agreement with Bluegrass Underground as an underwriter to the tune of $187,500 over the next three years.
The decision came on second and final read Tuesday night. The measure passed 5-1. Voting for the music to go on were Mayor Jimmy Haley and Aldermen Ryle Chastain, Everett Brock, Steve Harvey and Mike Neal. Alderman Jimmy Bonner voted against. Vice Mayor Ben Newman was absent.
Bluegrass Under-ground, 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 during first read for the cost gradually increasing from $50,000 a year in 2011 to $62,500 a year now, stating that he wanted to fund the production but that $50,000 a year should be enough.
“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.”
Supporters believe the help to the city comes from increased tourism and their dollars being spent here.
“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.”
Passing the measure allows Haley to sign the contract with the producers of Bluegrass Underground.