SunTrust Bank has donated a five-acre tract in Spring Hill, Tenn., for the construction of a Country Music Retirement Center, a project being masterminded by the Country Music Association. Announcement of the gift was made Wednesday (March 8) as part of grand opening ceremonies for the SunTrust Music Row Financial Center on Nashville’s 17th Ave. South.
In addition, the bank has arranged with Gaylord Entertainment to sponsor concert series at the Ryman Auditorium and Wildhorse Saloon and to sponsor receptions for new members of the Grand Ole Opry. The Ryman, Wildhorse and Opry are all Gaylord properties. In return for the sponsorships, Gaylord has agreed to use various SunTrust financial services.
Plans for a Country Music Retirement Center — which would be open to music industry retirees of all economic levels — have been in the works since 1994 when Jimmy Bowen, then head of Liberty Records, proposed the idea at a CMA board of directors meeting. The effort is now headed by Wayne Halper, general manager and head of operations for DreamWorks Records and a CMA board member.
SunTrust made its offer of the Spring Hill site last July, and CMA’s Country Music Retirement Center task force accepted it in October. The land is on a hilltop in the town center area near the city hall and post office. Neither the cost nor target opening date of the center has been announced.
Selected so far for the SunTrust Concert Series at the Ryman are Merle Haggard (May 3), Trisha Yearwood (May 31) and George Jones (Nov. 3).