By Dave Ammenheuser / Sports Director, USA TODAY Network-Tennessee

Welcome to Nashville, site of the 2018 Associated Press Sports Editors’ summer conference.

As you begin planning your trip to Music City, we encourage you to do your homework before arriving. Certainly, you’re coming here to learn the latest trends in our rapidly evolving profession. But there is so much for you to explore in our city, from its vibrant nightlife and music scene to its historic landmarks and museums.

Bring your family and make it a true summer vacation.

Where we’re staying

The conference will be held June 17-20 at the Nashville Marriott at Vanderbilt University. The hotel is situated in the middle of the West End neighborhood, home of the Commodores and many businesses.

It’s not as elegant as The Roosevelt, where we stayed in New Orleans last summer. But on a sports editor’s budget, the Marriott’s cost is less expensive than the new high-end hotels on Lower Broadway.

If you don’t wish to stay with your friends at the Marriott, there are many, many other choices around the city and around Middle Tennessee. From the high-end Omni and Hyatt on Lower Broadway to less expensive hotels in nearby towns. 

Opening day, err night

After the opening executive meeting, #TeamTennessee and the Nashville Predators will host you on Opening Night with a reception at Bridgestone Arena. It’s 17 blocks away (a long walk, a short cab or Uber ride, or Peddle Tavern jaunt). We’ll imbibe and eat some of Nashville’s favorites and maybe meet a special guest or two while also seeing the underbelly of the arena voted No. 1 in the world by Pollstar magazine.

Afterward you’ll be on your own to explore Lower Broadway. Take in the music at one of the honky tonks, do some shopping or oogle at one of the many construction sites (recently, there were 40 cranes building high-rises around town).  There’s so much to see and do, you won’t have enough time to see it all the first night.

The conference

Oh, yeah, the real reason we’re here. The conference sessions will be held Monday and Tuesday at the Marriott. APSE President Jeff Rosen and his team of planners have a hefty, informative program prepared for you. He will soon distribute details to you.

But it’s not all work

We also have social committee who will welcome you to the city and be available to answer whatever questions you may have. On Monday and Tuesday mornings, Maura Ammenheuser and Julie Anastasi will serve as your special Nashville concierge service.

Have a question about the cost of the Johnny Cash museum?  Need directions to Cheekwood’s gardens? Are you wondering if the Adventure Science Center is worth the cost of admission? Do you want to know if children are allowed in the honkytonks on Lower Broadway? Need dinner recommendations? Directions to the Opry Mills Mall? Want to know what you see in the backstage tour of the Ryman Auditorium or what icons you may run into at the Country Music Hall of Fame? Is the pro baseball or soccer team in town?

Just ask. Maura and Julie will give you advice, offer suggestions and find answers to your questions.

Two special group events

What would a visit to Nashville be like without a trip to the Grand Ole’ Opry? The nation’s longest running live radio program will broadcast several times the week you’re in town. We’re looking to hold a group outing to the Opry on Tuesday, June 19. Details to come. But a visit to Nashville wouldn’t be complete without watching some of the nation’s top music talent perform live.

And what would a trip to Tennessee be like without a trip to the Jack Daniel’s distillery? It’s an hour drive from Nashville to Lynchburg, but when will you get another chance to view how the whiskey is made. And, yes, although the whiskey is made in a dry county, there are samples available during the tour.

The awards dinner

Come listen to outgoing president Jeff Rosen and incoming president John Bedarnowski marvel at how great APSE is. Then slap your comrades on the back as they pick up their plaques.

The post-dinner fun

And the perfect place to finish the evening: Take your pick from many local establishments for a final toast or two. Depending on your mood after the awards dinner, we offer these two suggestions:  Winners Bar and Grill (1913 Division Street) or Losers Bar & Grill (1911 Division Street).

Dave Ammenheuser, a 20-year member of The Associated Press Sports Editors, is the Sports Director of the USA TODAY Network-Tennessee. He oversees the sports staffs of The (Nashville) Tennessean, The (Memphis) Commercial Appeal, The (Knoxville) News Sentinel, The (Murfreesboro) Daily News Journal, The (Clarksville) Leaf Chronicle and The (Jackson) Sun. Most importantly, he organizes the annual APSE poker game. However, this year, that game will go on hiatus as he serves as our conference host.

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