The Nashville Municipal Auditorium opened in 1962 to provide Middle Tennessee with a multipurpose facility that could handle diverse events. For more than 50 years it has done just that, hosting everything from concerts to circuses, sporting events to auto shows, and everything in between.
The Rolling Stones, Elvis Presley, Fleetwood Mac, Grateful Dead and Kiss are just a few of the notable performers who have played in the auditorium. In the ‘80s, the South Stars hockey team called the auditorium home, and in recent years the Ohio Valley Conference Basketball Tournament has been played at the auditorium.
Bob Skoney is the general manager of Nashville Municipal Auditorium, and we sat down with him to discuss the venue’s past and future.
DES: How long have you been the general manager for the auditorium, and what’s your scope of work in this position?
Bob Skoney: I have been the general manager of the NMA since 1992. I’m responsible for oversight of the venue, bookings, and communicating our vision and goals to the mayor, Metropolitan Council, Auditorium Commission and other stakeholders.
DES: The auditorium has been in operation for more than 50 years, and although it doesn’t book as many concerts and sporting events as Bridgestone Arena or Nissan Stadium, it’s still a viable option for top-tier events. What role do you see the auditorium serving now that Nashville has other large venues?
Bob Skoney: As you noted, the NMA is still a great venue to host a concert, sporting event or family show. Events occurring annually include religious and cheerleading conventions, corporate general sessions, comedy shows, the Al Menah Temple Shrine Circus, and the Ohio Valley Conference Men’s and Women’s Basketball Tournament.
DES: What makes the auditorium special or unique when compared to other venues in Nashville?
Bob Skoney: In addition to our downtown location, the Auditorium has 50 years of history and memories for Nashville that are commemorated on our walls with giant tickets from past events.
DES: What are the biggest challenges you and the auditorium face in the foreseeable future?
Bob Skoney: Our biggest challenge is to continue reducing our deficit by increasing bookings with so many different entertainment venues in Nashville competing for the same business.
DES: Does Metro DES supply both heating and cooling for the building? How long has the auditorium been on the Metro DES? Do you think being on the system is beneficial to the auditorium versus an in-house heating and cooling system?
Bob Skoney: We started using heating and cooling generated by Nashville Thermal (now DES) in 1974. Being on the system has been beneficial to us and Metro Government.
DES: You probably have an endless supply of interesting stories from working at the auditorium. Can you share with us the most interesting or indelible story from your time as general manager?
Bob Skoney: In the early ‘80s Ozzy Osbourne was preparing to perform here to a sold-out audience. He didn’t show up to go on stage, and we couldn’t find him. Apparently he had passed out in the wrong room at the Hyatt Regency (now the Sheraton) Downtown. They asked Van Halen to perform a little longer, which they did, but to no avail since Ozzy couldn’t be located. After a minor riot, we rescheduled the show for two days later.