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E-Mails Show PR Firm's Development Role

Pages of e-mails released Monday show how big of a role a public relations firm played in the development of the Music City Convention Center.
/ Source: WSMV-TV

Hundreds of pages of e-mails released Monday show just how big of a role a public relations firm played in the development of the Music City Convention Center.

The Metro Housing and Development Agency released those e-mails under the state's Open Records Act. This thick stack of e-mails gives an inside look into exactly what McNeely Pigott and Fox was doing while it billed up to $285 an hour.

The partners at McNeely Pigott and Fox withstood a two-hour inquisition last Monday into the cost of the work they did on the convention center project -- some $488,000 worth in a year's time. The e-mails show it was clearly the PR firm's intent to get the project approved by council, even though some elected officials opposed it.

On June 27, 2008, partner David Fox wrote, "We all worked very hard for a long time to see the Music City Center become a reality." He invited MDHA's Phil Ryan and others to a meeting to "help continue the forward momentum."

Fox mentioned "the celebration" when MHDA was chosen to oversee the project -- a decision some in council now regret, blaming MDHA failure to cap the PR firm's spending.

The e-mails show the partners at the PR firm, who were billing MDHA $285 an hour, wrote speeches and presentations for Ryan -- in March 2009, for example, writing a sheet of questions and answers about the project for Ryan to send to council members.

At times, McNeely Pigott and Fox seemed to know more about the Music City Center project than Ryan did himself. Last month, Mike Pigott wrote to Ryan about a meeting he had with officials of traffic and parking. Ryan wrote back, "MCC will have its own parking site, correct?"