Cavalia’s “Odysseo” is a Canadian Cirque du Soleil-style production featuring 65 horses and 50 artists performing beneath a giant “white big-top” tent. When the equestrian touring company was invited to Nashville by Metro councilman Robert Swope, they identified a site across from the Opryland Hotel for their two-month engagement. Owned by our longstanding client Ryman Hospitality Properties, the 120-acre site was slated for future development. Ryman connected Gresham Smith with Cavalia in June 2017 to develop a site plan sufficient for permitting. The site plan addressed grading, stormwater management, parking, ADA compliance, access management and provision of all needed utilities.


Cavalia, Inc.


Nashville, TN






square-foot tent





A Delicate Balancing Act

A Delicate Balancing Act

Slated to run from August 30 through October 22 of 2017, the production needed to exit the site before the holiday season at Opryland Hotel and Opry Mills Mall. However, it would take six weeks to prepare the site, which had to accommodate a 125-foot-tall, 72,000-square-foot tent, stables for the horses, a dining facility for the performers, a VIP tent and parking for 650 vehicles. Our team was challenged with helping Cavalia obtain all necessary permits from Metro and the State while contending with unique site constraints, an aggressive schedule, and making sure the site was restored to its original condition after the show’s final performance.

Raising the Big Top

Raising the Big Top

After meeting a long list of project objectives from a diverse group of stakeholders, permitting was successfully completed by mid-July 2017. Odysseo’s signature white big top was finally raised July 31, ready for opening night in August. The success of the project was ultimately based on the dynamics between our team and Ryman Hospitality Properties, Cavalia, the Metro councilman and the Tennessee Department of Environment and Conservation. Our efforts allowed the Nashville area to enjoy this Las Vegas-style production in its own backyard while reaping a significant economic windfall from the show’s long run.

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Mickey Sullivan, P.E.
Mickey Sullivan, P.E.
Senior Vice President, Human Resources