CMA Awards Head to New York City in 2005

One-Time Move Is Effort to Draw Attention to Raise Country Music's Profile

Next year’s CMA Awards show will take place at Madison Square Garden in New York City, officials announced Tuesday (Oct. 5). CMA executives and New York Mayor Michael R. Bloomberg confirmed the one-time move from Nashville during a press conference in New York City. The show will take place Nov. 15, 2005.

In a press release, Bloomberg said New York City is committed to attracting major events that have never taken place in the nation’s top media market.

“The Country Music Association is a true pioneer in the music industry, having successfully established country music as a leading genre, and we’re going to take this event to a whole new level,” the mayor said. “New York City has a proven track record of hosting the biggest and most-watched events around the globe.”

Taking the awards show to New York will achieve the CMA’s goal of raising national and international awareness of country music, according to Maureen J. Reidy, president of NYC Big Events, an organization formed to attract major events to the city. “Hosting the CMA Awards in New York City will generate global media attention and help us reach large populations of potential visitors who will see our city in a whole new light,” she said.

Aside from the actual awards show, to be broadcast on CBS-TV, the CMA will attempt to create a larger presence in New York City through a series of events leading up to the main event at Madison Square Garden. Billed as “Country Takes New York City,” the initiative will give New Yorkers a taste of country music through promotional activities involving a wide range of local institutions, including Broadway and the fashion industry.

In the press release, CMA board president Kix Brooks noted, “We are taking country music to the street. Our goal is to be present in every corner, every club, everywhere you turn. New York City moves on the muscle and heart of its people and the themes and issues that dominate this format — the struggles people face and overcome everyday — are the backbone of what we are and what we do. New York City is not lacking country spirit.”

At a similar press conference Tuesday afternoon in Nashville, CMA officials announced that the 2006 awards show will take place in downtown Nashville at the Gaylord Entertainment Center. For years, the show was staged at the Grand Ole Opry House before an invitation-only audience. The move to the more spacious downtown arena will allow fans to purchase tickets to the event. CMA officials said a decision has not been made to move the show to the Gaylord Entertainment Center on a permanent basis. Meanwhile, this year’s CMA Awards show takes place Nov. 9 at the Opry House.

Presenting the 2005 show at Madison Square Garden will mean $30 million to the New York City economy, CMA executive director Ed Benson said during the Nashville press conference. Benson, who termed the deal “a platform to escalate media interest,” would not divulge specifics about the financial arrangement made between the CMA and New York City. However, he did say it will cost more than twice as much to produce the awards show in New York, adding that New York City will provide a compensation package to offset the additional costs.

At the Nashville press conference, Brooks said the CMA also considered the extra costs Nashville-based artists, labels and music businesses will be forced to incur simply to be present for the awards show activities in New York.

“This is a tremendous amount of trouble we’re going through to do this,” Brooks said. He added, “We feel the pluses far outweigh the minuses.”

Calvin Gilbert has served as CMT.com’s managing editor since 2002. His background includes stints at the Nashville Banner, Radio & Records and Westwood One.