Leaving aside the squishy nature of the claims for success at the Knoxville Convention Center in today's News Sentinel story--up "5.9 percent over this time last year"--there's something kind of funny in this statement by KTSC leader Gloria Ray:
Ray told the group to "think of downtown as a big mall" with the "anchor tenants" being the Convention Center, the Knoxville Zoo, the University of Tennessee and the South Knoxville waterfront.
OK, first of all, the Knoxville Zoo, which of course we all love, is not technically "downtown." It's about five miles from the Convention Center. The University of Tennessee is not really downtown either, at least in the way we generally mean that word. The waterfront, yes... but not the "South Knoxville waterfront," which for the moment consists of a big empty hospital building and some industrial sites. The Convention Center itself, sort of. You can at least throw a rock into downtown from there, though you have to get the rock (or yourself) across Henley Street.
But if we're going to talk about "anchors" for downtown, anyone who's actually spent time there recently could rattle off an entirely different list: Market Square, Gay Street, the Old City, the 100 Block. Ray's list consists of things that existed when the Convention Center opened eight years ago. Does the Knoxville Tourism and Sports Corp. need to update its tour guide?
And of course, the other question is why we need to think of downtown as "a mall" at all. Surely by this point it has earned the right to be thought of as what it is: Downtown.