July 13, 2024 9:23 PM
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Conferences scramble to relocate after flooding in Nashville



Photo by Stephen Lee

Several conferences and expositions are homeless after the Cumberland River swamped the Gaylord Opryland Resort & Convention Center in Nashville, Tenn. earlier this week. The Cumberland River, which runs through Nashville, crested at over 51 feet on Sunday, May 1, surpassing its flood stage of 40 feet.

Thought to be protected by FEMA-approved levees built to sustain the 100-year flood standard, The Gaylord Opryland Resort and Convention Center suffered extensive damage, including what appears to be the total destruction of its 600,000 square foot, basement level convention center. (See accompanying article, Impact of flooding could devastate Nashville’s convention community). Although Exhibit City News was unable to contact resort representatives, pictures depicting the flooding and eyewitness accounts indicate that the floodwaters were as high as 10 feet in the convention center.

Colin Reed, CEO and chairman of the Gaylord Opryland, said earlier in the week that it could be three to six months before the resort can open its doors to guests.  There was no mention as to when the convention center might open for business.  With that in mind, several organizations that were scheduled to host events in the convention center over the next six months are scrambling to find new venues.

Ironically, one of the conferences looking for a new home is the Disaster Response and Recovery Expo, May 11-13. According to the Expo website, planners are considering rescheduling the event for June 2-4 in Las Vegas. According to the Exhibit City News Tradeshow Calendar, about 2,000 attendees and 100 exhibitors were expected for the expo.

The Association of Women’s Health, Obstetric and Neonatal Nurses (AWHONN) is already negotiating for a new site for their convention, although it was unable to secure a location in Nashville.  According to the website, “The event will move to a different city and is tentatively scheduled for the last week of September.”  It was expected that about 3,000 AWONN attendees would converge on the Gaylord Opryland Resort, June 12-16.

Scheduled for Aug. 7-11, The American Phytopathological Society (APS) is hoping to hold its events as scheduled and is in the process of securing a new location. About 1,800 attendees and 50 exhibitors are expected for the event. The 2010 Distribution Systems Symposium and Exposition & Water Security Congress, Sept. 12-15, is also seeking alternate cities and dates for their event.

The Nursing Management Congress has not given up hope that it can still host its Sept. 22-26 event at the Gaylord. Its website states, “If the venue warrants a change after assessment measures are completed, conference dates and timing will be exactly as originally planned (we’re currently holding space at alternate venues as a back-up.)”

Aleta Walther is a marketing communications professional and freelance writer with several years experience as a corporate exhibit manager. Contact Aleta at aw@waltherstewart.com.



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