MEMPHIS, TN (abc24.com) - It's true. The plans for a big hotel inside the old Pyramid Arena are gone. Bass Pro Shops was planning on attaching this big hotel right on the side of the Pyramid. Instead, they will now build about twenty log cabins inside.
It is not scaling back on a project. It is simply dealing with a building that wasn't designed to have a hotel attached to its side. "With any project," says Memphis Chief Administrative Officer George Little,"...it's a complex situation. You are always going to encounter things you didn't expect. The facility was built for sports and entertainment. So clearly, as we put it to other uses, we're going to have to make some adaptations."
Sources say there will be announcements over the next few weeks which will show beyond a shadow of a doubt the Bass Pro Pyramid store isn't going to be some cut rate deal. The date for the shops to start operating is next November, and when it opens, city officials are hoping it begins the boom time for the North end of Main Street, known as the Pinch District. "Something like this is about adaptation," Little says.
Let's move on. And let's give this story a new title. Call it a Tale of Two Arenas: The Pyramid and the Mid-South Coliseum. When the FedExForum opened, a non-compete clause went into effect, which keeps the Coliseum from getting any decent concerts. Nobody is sure what to do with the place. "It remains to be seen," says George Little. "We continue to struggle with the non-compete clause and try to come up with an appropriate use of the site. Certainly, that's valuable real estate as we try to develop the fairgrounds."
He said a mouthful. The city has spent millions fixing up the Liberty Bowl stadium. They still want the fairgrounds to be a mix of stores and houses. It is tough to sell new homes with a big vacant arena in your backyard.
"The Coliseum sits right in the middle of that parking area," says Little. "To have that available space would be very attractive. That said, all that will be worked out by the Memphis City Council, who will have an opportunity to weigh in on the ultimate dispositiion of that site."
Council will get an updated look at the fairgrounds plans this week.