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Tennessee taxpayers may pay for two convention buildings only miles apart

Does it make sense for Wilson County taxpayers in Tennessee to pay $9 million for an arena seating 2,500 people, while taxpayers in the nearby county seat of Lebanon pay $40 million for a similar building seating 5,000? 

Are two buildings really needed? 

The county, while outside Nashville, has 118,000 residents, according to the most recent government census, and is not considered a major metropolitan area. 

County taxpayers, through a hotel-motel tax, might fund what officials are calling the Wilson County Ag Expo Center, at the county fairgrounds, described as a venue for trade shows and conventions. 

Lebanon taxpayers, meanwhile, might pay for what officials are calling the Cumberland Center, which would hold concerts, trade shows, sports and religious events, said Mayor Phillip Craighead. 

"There's a concern of those two being roughly one and the same in terms of venues and what they are trying to attract," Wilson County Commissioner Clint Thomas told Tennessee Watchdog. 

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