Stakeholders discuss future of Memphis fairgrounds

Stakeholders discuss future of Memphis fairgrounds

MEMPHIS, TN (WMC) - In just a few weeks, Memphis city leaders should learn if they will get the go ahead to redevelop the fairgrounds from what it is now.

As the clock ticks on the deadline for the decision, key stakeholders are discussing the proposed plans.

The state said earlier this year, pending applications that were unapproved wouldn't be allowed to proceed.

Memphis’ was on the list, and the fate of the fairgrounds hangs in the balance.

“We are hopeful they will hear that application at one of their November meetings,” said Mary Clair Borys, project manager for City of Memphis.

We’re likely weeks away from knowing whether the state’s building commission will green light the city’s $95 million to $100 million fairgrounds redevelopment plan.

The city is asking for special approval to turn the fairgrounds area into a tourism development zone, where future sales tax revenues can be used to pay for construction debt or make site improvements.

“We think we have put together a winning formula for youth sports and hotels and a little bit of retail on the site that will bring hundreds of thousands of visitors,” Borys said.

The centerpiece would be a 190,000 square foot indoor sports complex to host youth volleyball, track or basketball tournaments, as well as renovations to the Liberty Bowl.

Tuesday, city leaders and advocates for the Memphis Coliseum held a roundtable discussion at the Memphis Rotary luncheon. “The obstacles that have been put out in front of the coliseum are solvable and solvable in an economical way,” said Coliseum Coalition President Roy Barnes.

Bringing the Mid-South Coliseum back to life is not part of the city's plan, but Coliseum advocates remain hopeful.

City officials have previously said they hope investment in the fairgrounds area will help lure private dollars to take a look at the Mid-South Coliseum.

“We are doing tours for leaders, investors, and others of the coliseum to show them the viability of the building,” Barnes said.

The fairgrounds area was recently designated as part of a federal opportunity zone, meaning private investors are eligible for federal tax benefits.

The city hopes their TDZ application will be heard in November, and they said they would own that youth sports building but likely hire a professional management company.

A financial advisory shows it would be self-sustaining by its fifth year.

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