Athens wants Ga. Music Hall of Fame

 ATHENS, Ga. -- Athens-Clarke County will pursue the Georgia Music Hall of Fame, the county's top economic development officials said Thursday


But Matt Forshee, the president of the Athens-Clarke Economic Development Foundation, said he cannot release any details of the bid because the hall of fame's request for proposals bars it.

The confidentiality clause "puts us in a quandary," Forshee said.

"We don't want to hide anything," he said. "We can't release it. We can't talk about it. We can't do anything, or we're disqualified."

The state sports and music halls of fame may move because they are struggling financially in Macon. The music hall of fame houses 30,000 artifacts like instruments, records, books and sheet music in a 43,000-square-foot building, but the request for proposals calls for only 10,000 square feet of space.

Athens-Clarke officials have discussed splitting up exhibits among several locations in Athens, such as the Classic Center and the new University of Georgia special collections library, at least temporarily.

"We're going to do this in a manner that best suits the way Athens is and is in the best interests of Athens," Forshee said. "... We are not trying to pick up the Macon facility and bring it to Athens."

The Athens bid will not involve any local tax dollars, he said.

Athens will face competition from at least two other cities.

The Dunwoody City Council voted to bid on the music hall of fame Nov. 22. That bid will include both public and private funding but no money from the city, metro Atlanta media outlets reported.

The Macon City Council voted last month to approve $500,000 subsidies over three years for the sports and music halls of fame, and the Bibb County Commission is expected to match it.

Atlanta cannot bid on the halls because city officials did not attend a mandatory meeting in Macon in October, but Fulton County Commissioner Robb Pitts is lobbying to let Atlanta bid anyway because he says no one in the Atlanta government ever received notice. Pitts said in a news release last month that the fix is in for Athens, which Forshee laughed off.

"It's not a conspiracy," he said.

Atlanta did not bid on the halls because Mayor Kasim Reed was uncomfortable trying to take them away from Macon, he told the newspaper Creative Loafing in October.

Dahlonega, Albany and Woodstock officials also have expressed interest in one or both of the halls. The deadline to submit a proposal is Dec. 10.

The halls' boards of directors are required to decide by the end of April whether to keep the halls in Macon or move them elsewhere based on where they can become financially self-sufficient. State lawmakers have said they no longer will subsidize the halls.



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