SEC Tips Off March Madness in Nashville With High Hopes for Vandy and Businesses
By TOM WOOD / March 5, 2023
To their credit, the city of Nashville and all the downtown merchants have fully embraced the Southeastern Conference men’s basketball tournament, which returns to Bridgestone Arena for a March 8-12 run. Here’s hoping local basketball fans show the same love for our hometown team, the Vanderbilt Commodores, during the tournament.
I have two SEC Tournament stories in the March 3-9 edition of the Ledger, the being a look at the hopes of Alabama, Vanderbilt and Tennessee and the second one on the economic impact of hosting the tournament.
Vandy, which has won only two previous SEC tournament championships in 1951 and 2012, this has won eight of its last nine games since a 57-point loss at Alabama. Fourth-year Commodores Coach Jerry Stackhouse hopes that strong play translates into a homecourt advantage.
““It’s one of those tournaments that should be a lot of excitement for us,” Stackhouse says. “Hopefully, we continue to build some momentum to where it could be a home court advantage for us, playing here in Nashville.”
The 2023 men’s basketball tournament will likely have a bit of a different feel this year.
–Ledger cover by Mike Hopey
The Commodores (18-13) finished in a tie for fourth place in the regular season with Missouri and Tennessee, but will be the No. 6 tourney seed based on tie-breakers. ESPN bracketology expert Joe Lunardi has expressed doubt about Vandy’s chances about making the 68-team NCAA Tournament field, saying they needed to win their season finale and a couple of SEC tourney games just to even be considered.
Before he suffered a season-ending leg injury, Vandy center Liam Robbins expressed confidence in his team’s chances of not only accomplishing that challenge but winning the SEC crown and the league’s automatic bid.
“As far as winning them all, I’m not, you know, Lunardi. I don’t know how the bracket stuff works,” Robbins said. “But I think our whole team has a mindset (that) we’re just going to try and win them all. I mean, we’re not, ‘Okay, well, we have to win five of these next seven and if we lose these, they’re okay.’ No, you go in with the mentality that you’re going to win them all and that’s they mentality we have.”
Alabama is the No. 1 seed while UT is seeded fifth and Vandy sixth.
–-Bracket courtesy of SEC
The other story was about the estimated $20 million in direct economic impact for local businesses, mostly generated by out-of-state fans who fill downtown hotels, restaurants, bars and entertainment venues during the week.
Tom Morales, owner of TomKats Hospitality and several downtown restaurants, hopes local fans will attend the tournament and enjoy the college basketball atmosphere.
“I’m more excited about the local people coming downtown to Nashville than the out-of-town tourists,” Morales said. “I mean, they’re both very valuable to us, but I think from my perspective, being a local, any excuse that the locals can have to come downtown is a positive for us because we value that type of local tourist.
And if that happens, hopefully it will mean showing a little love for the hometown team.
Eggstra, Eggstra! Read All About How Latest Shortage Affects Consumers, Restaurants
By TOM WOOD / FEBRUARY 1, 2023
That’s my punny headline for my latest Ledger story about the egg shortage crisis is affecting Tennesseans, both consumers and those in the restaurant industry. Punny headline but not a laughing matter.
Avian flu has killed millions and millions of shortages and the prices have gone up at grocery stores and restaurants, which have seen their prices triple. They buy and go through cases of eggs by the dozens, and it’s cutting into their profit margin as they try not to pass all the costs to customers.
“Well, it seems very, very hard because the prices as we know them, they have been increasing a lot. Six months ago, we used to buy a case of 15 dozen (cage-free) shell eggs for $30. Now they cost $97,” Midtown Cafe Chef Max Pastor says in the January 27 edition of the Nashville Ledger.
Grocery stores have been in short supply of eggs and customers are paying more.
–Ledger cover by Mike Hopey
Craig Clifft, general manager at Nashville’s famed Elliston Place Soda Shop, explains how prices jumped over a year’s time for restaurants.
“If you rewind back a year, we were paying somewhere in the neighborhood of about $30 to $35 a case. And when I looked at the pricing (Jan. 17), it was anywhere between $75 and $98 a case, typically being a lot closer to that $100 mark,” says Clifft.
It’s a trending story that everyone is talking about and a problem that could get worse
Developers Focus on Belle Meade Plaza
By TOM WOOD / JANUARY 23, 2023
If you’ve been in downtown Nashville the last couple of years, you’ve certainly noticed Music City’s vertical growth. High-rises, towers and cranes are everywhere, changing the city’s skyline.
Suburban neighborhoods have seen similar growth and changes, though perhaps not as towering. That could soon change on the outskirts of Belle Meade, Nashville’s wealthiest enclave.
For the January 20 edition of the Nashville Ledger, I write how developers want to replace Belle Meade Plaza, which opened in 1961, with a mammoth mixed-use project that would include condominiums. rental units, a boutique hotel and 60,000 square feet of retail.
Developers’ plans for Belle Meade met with optimism, skepticism.
–Ledger cover by Mike Hopey
There would also be a dog park and plenty of green space. Green roofs, terraces and pools would top the towers. The plan also includes restoration of Richland and Sugartree creeks.
“Our vision for Belle Meade is to create a walkable,
to more great work in the coming year.
As always, thanks for reading